About a week ago, former Boston Celtics great Paul Pierce signed a one-year contract with the Washington Wizards in what could be the last year of his NBA career.
“The Truth” was rumored to be reuniting with Doc Rivers in Los Angeles, but amid a delayed sale and a hectic front-office situation, it appears Pierce decided to go to the Wizards.
Normally we see players at the twilight-stage of their careers try and latch on to a championship-quality organization to try and earn that first ring, or in Pierce’s case, a second one. That’s what he was doing in Brooklyn when he was dealt with alongside Kevin Garnett to try and appease the Mikhail Prokhorov’s thirst for world domination.
But now he will be in the nation’s capital, playing 25-28 minutes as a spot-up shooter for a Wizards team that may be on the brink of an Eastern Conference Finals appearance for the next three or four years. So why pick D.C. over sunny LA? What happened to this NBA-homecoming?
It wasn’t the money right?!?! The extra few million Pierce is getting from the Wizards can’t be it. The man has made over $120 million in his career, and his name isn’t Antoine Walker. Could it be that ‘Toine has been shimmying his way over to Pierce to borrow a million here and there because he has a “sure thing” at the track?? Probably not.
Does Pierce have enough in him to run with the John Wall and Bradley Beal, perhaps the fastest guard tandem in the league? In theory he could walk from three-point line to three-point line with his signature flop-sweat coming off his headband, but does that really give Washington a shot to get to the finals?
Recent years has shown a new side to Pierce that we only saw in Boston towards the end of his tenure with the club. Though he never got the press of a wise man like say Derek Fisher or Jason Kidd, Pierce has been a mentor to many young players to guys on the C’s and the Nets over the past few seasons. He is always talking to guys during huddles, putting his arm around a teammate after a rough play, and has had to change his game each year based on his physical abilities. The man is one of the smarter NBA-minds around the Association today.
Washington is loaded with young talent, but even with the veterans currently on the roster, they lack that father-figure to show them to the promised land. Few candidates are better than Pierce, a savvy, if not the savviest, veteran around the league not named Tim Duncan. Don’t be surprised to see Paul diagramming plays by the end of the year, and if he saves up his old-man strength, he can provide big moments in the waning seconds of playoff matchups.
Surely Pierce will return to Boston after this year to either play one more season, or just retire as a Celtic. So this isn’t the end of the line for one of the greatest Celtics of all time and maybe in a couple of years we will see him next to Brad Stevens in a suit, sitting in disbelief as one of his proteges flings a pass into the second row of the Garden.