NBA Free Agency: Paul Pierce To Opt Out, Could Mark End of the Big Three

Shady BotrosAnalyst IJune 30, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics stands on the court in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Yes, you can add another top name to the illustrious list of 2010 free agents. According to Paul Pierce’s agent Jeff Schwartz, Pierce will opt out and become a free agent. By opting out Pierce is leaving a guaranteed $21.5 million on the table, but is eligible to sign a four year deal worth $96 million. Pierce can also field four year offers from other teams worth $93 million.

We have rarely heard of Pierce’s name when it came to the free agent frenzy, but the same case can be made for Dirk Nowitzki who opted out of his contract today. Nowitzki and Pierce were drafted back to back in the 1998 NBA draft. Since then both have become the faces of their franchises.

League sources remain confident that both Pierce and Nowitzki will stay with their teams even if it means overpaying for guys that are approaching the twilight of their careers. Pierce will start the free agent period by negotiating with the Celtics, but will explore his options and field offers from other teams.

It is also important to note that Pierce shares the same agent as Lamar Odom. Last offseason Odom was in a similar situation. Odom demanded a certain amount of money from the Lakers, got enticing offers from teams such as the Heat, but ultimately resigned with the Los Angeles.

It would be no surprise if Pierce were to go back to the Celtics. If head coach Doc Rivers is back, and Bostons resigns Ray Allen, it will have essentially the same squad coming back for another season.

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Now is that squad capable of winning a title? Depending on what happens in free agency, I would say probably not. However Pierce has played his entire career with the Celtics, he’s one of the greatest Celtics of all time, and in the end of the day, they can pay him the most money.

However, if Pierce were to leave, Allen would likely do the same, and it would be the end of the big three. The Celtics would enter the phase that is the rebuilding mode. While they would have Rajon Rondo who is their franchise cornerstone, Kevin Garnett is past his prime, and the Celtics lack the cap space to sign a big free agent down the road. That being said, there would be little reason for Rivers to come back. Doc could take a year off and come back and be the most sought after coach on the market. The Celtics would then have to rebuild through the draft which can be a long process that requires great pertinence.

If Pierce were to leave Boston, he could draw major interest from a team that needs a shooter, a go to guy, or help at the wing positions. Here are a few places where Pierce would be a good fit.

Chicago Bulls

Whether or not the Bulls acquire LeBron James, they need outside shooting from the wing positions. Pierce could fit in with free agents such as LeBron and Chris Bosh. Pierce would play on the perimeter, and get open looks off of LeBron’s play making skills and Bosh’s touches in the post. A core four of LeBron, Derrick Rose, Bosh, and Pierce is likely good enough to be the favorites coming out of the Eastern Conference.

Miami Heat

Why not? Pierce had a terrific series against the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. A series that included a game three in which Pierce made a buzzer beater to win the game, and also had 32 points.

All signs indicate that Dwayne Wade will resign with the Heat. Wade and Pierce would play off each other very well; Pierce could get open looks off Wade’s penetration. Pierce is also one of the best at getting to the line, a duo of Pierce and Wade, plus a low post scorer like an Amare Stoudemire or a Carlos Boozer, the Heat have a significantly improved squad capable of making a deep playoff run.

New York Knicks

Pierce is a dynamic two guard who can penetrate and knock down shots which sounds like a perfect fit for Mike D’Antoni’s system. It looks like the Knicks are ready to offer Joe Johnson the max. Johnson and Pierce are similar players but could make it work in D’Antoni’s wide open run and gun system.

The Knicks are also in the mix for Stoudemire. A Pierce, Stoudemire, Johnson trio has some necessary pieces, a clutch go to scorer, a low post scorer, and great shooting on the wings.

It seems unlikely that Pierce will leave Boston because he’s been the face of the franchise for so long. However, in the end, Pierce will be keeping all his options open.

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