Posted May 14, 2013

Report: Paul Pierce not expecting to return to Celtics next season

Boston Celtics, Paul Pierce, Rob Mahoney
Paul Pierece

Paul Pierce, 35, may have played his last game in a Celtics uniform. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

There is a universal understanding that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are not the players they once were. Both will inevitably move either to another team or into retirement at some point soon. Celtics fans and hoops fans in general have taken many of Boston’s playoff exits to be the likely end of an era, but this summer could finally bring about the departure of the stars who defined the contemporary Celtics’ spirit.

The 2013-14 season will be the final year of Pierce’s contract, but only $5 million of his $15.3 million salary is guaranteed. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, therefore, has his options. He can keep the 35-year-old Pierce, and maintain the status quo. (Garnett, who turns 37 on Sunday and has been the subject of retirement rumors, has two years left on his deal.) He can release Pierce as a means of saving $10 million and likely follow up that move with other cap-clearing trades. Or he could trade Pierce to another team that either intends to release Pierce for its own cap savings or find better use for Pierce’s current skill set. It’s a strange thought, but according to Celtics sideline reporter Greg Dickerson (via MassLive.com), it may be more likely than you think:

“I don’t think they will [bring Pierce back],” Dickerson said Sunday on CSNNE. “And I know that the company that Paul Pierce hangs around in, they do not believe — and I don’t think Paul Pierce believes — that he is going to be brought back next year at $15 million. I know for a fact that people around Paul Pierce have pretty much resigned themselves to the fact that he’s played his final game in a Boston Celtics uniform. Again, Paul wants to stay — obviously for $15 million, but he wants to finish his career in a Celtics uniform.”

The lone year remaining on Pierce’s contract can be bought out for $5 million. Asked whether he believes the Celtics will trade Pierce or buy him out, Dickerson said: “One way or the other. Probably a buyout. More than likely a buyout.”

Flipping Pierce isn’t likely to land some transformational asset and this Celtics team on the whole is more than a move or two away from climbing the Eastern Conference ladder. None of that makes the decision to part ways with Pierce any easier for Boston, but all of this is a natural extension of the Celtics’ ongoing decay. This day was coming, and for Boston this could present as good an opportunity as any to get a head start on the rebuild to come.

There is no easy path back to title contention, and no ideal resolution when a long-tenured player and the direction of the franchise are suddenly at odds. That’s of no fault to either Pierce or the Celtics, who have done well to string out this relationship as long as they could. But there’s no escaping the basketball life cycle, or the allure of $10 million savings for a team not likely to make a postseason dent.

H/T: BDL.

18 comments
billv
billv

I would guess there is a number between $5M and $15M that would make both sides happy and keep Pierce in Boston for one more year.   With the collection of retreads that is the current Celtics you are not going to attract big name free agents - would you really pay max bucks for the Howard or Smith anyway?

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

Pierce is a liability in many games, he has fewer and fewer strong games.   HE could still come off the bench to add scoring but he is no longer a starter.

justin22
justin22

this is hearsay. try reporting, you hack. PRIMARY SOURCES.

dean11
dean11

I know it's easy to say let's just get rid of them and build on the future.  But it's tough with the culture and history of this team.  If you watched the Celtics series the two best players for them were without a doubt Pierce and Garnett.  This team is really only missing a couple pieces to have a chance to be a contender again.  Paul Pierce and Garnett will not play anywhere else, they would both rather retire so it's either Green for life or it's the end.  How ever if Pierce and Garnett do retire I'd love to see Boston snatch up Dwight Howard and Josh Smith.  Maybe they can amnesty another high contract to make some cap room.

P0is0nedKoolA1
P0is0nedKoolA1

I never understood this lovefest w/Pierce/Garnett. Sure they had a ring, took the Lakers to a game 7 in the Finals, but that was 5 years ago & they LOST! 

There were some nice offers throughout the years for Allen & Pierce , now C's won't get back big value. They could have had 

Monte Ellis for Ray Allen. 

DeAndre Jordan/Eric Bledsoe for KG

Pierce for Josh Smith

Rondo/Ellis/Green/Smith/Jordan sounds like a better future than what the C's have now

Obviously, cap wise, C's most likely couldn't hold onto all these players, but it'st better than what they have now

Boston didn't set up for their future despite the fact they went through this before holding onto Bird/Parrish/ McHale for too long. (Reggie Lewis dying hurt them too)

History repeats


frangooch32
frangooch32

Who cares what the billionaires have to pay? If we need him, sign him. If you don't, don't.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

Pierce could go to a team such as OKC and be a tough defender they could send out to beat up on the other team's best offensive player 20 minutes a game. But at this point Pierce is not the guy you want shooting the ball. I can't see any team offering him more than $3-4 million for a season.

6marK6
6marK6

Ainge does not have a clue what he is doing. He has tried like hell to trade away all of his young talent while keeping his elderly players past the the time he was able to get anything in return for them. You should build a team to win, not to pay homage to sacred cows that no longer can help you.

metalkiwis
metalkiwis

@DebdyGuillaume How do you figure? We already have Deng at 14 mil next year. Plus Jimmy Butler, if we do for some reason want to move Deng.

newshamg
newshamg

@WilyCoyoteSuperGenius Tough defender????? This article is about Paul Pierce not Dennis Rodman. He hasn't been a decent defender in years and he was never a great defender.

hoosier0409
hoosier0409

@6marK6 don't understand where ur coming from with this comment...moves he's made have had strange 'issues'...did anyone expecr green's heart issue???  sully's back was a gamble...but thy wanted toc what thy cld get from him this season....while thy still had PP n KG

doghockey
doghockey

@6marK6 Teams are built to win championships.  The Celtics have accomplished that goal under Danny Anige.   Maybe he has a bit of a clue as to what he is doing.

geewhiz
geewhiz

@6marK6 You can argue recent moves, but overall he was successful.  They did win a title with the big 3, and came within minutes of a second one.  Perhaps they get 3 straight if KG doesn't go down in 2009.

hoosier0409
hoosier0409

@6marK6 so thr's ur buildg for the future...green, bass, sully...n rondo...pretty good f u ask me

bigthreatsbeats
bigthreatsbeats

Bass is inconsistent but a good defender. Sully is gonna be a great player if he stays healthy. He is young and I think he will last.