Report: Paul Pierce plans to play next season; Wizards return undecided
Pierce, 37, spent last season with the Washington Wizards after one with the Brooklyn Nets and 15 with the Boston Celtics. The 10-time All-Star has until the end of this month to decide whether to exercise his $5.5 million player option to return to the Wizards, who went 46–36 this season and reached the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight year.
Pierce finished fourth in scoring with 11.9 points and added 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists over 73 regular-season games. In 10 postseason games, he averaged 14.6 points and nearly kept the Wizards alive before his potential game-tying three-pointer was waved off in Game 6 against the Atlanta Hawks.
If Pierce does opt out of his deal, he could still re-sign with the Wizards on a one-year deal worth about $5.5 million.
The Los Angeles Clippers have also been linked to Pierce, but could most likely only offer the mini-midlevel exception of $3.37 million. They do have head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers, who coached Pierce with the Celtics from 2004 to 2013 and won a title with him in 2008, as well as a roster believed to be more talented than the Wizards’. The Clippers finished 56–26, third in the deeper Western Conference, and reached the Western Conference semifinals.
Earlier this week, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said he hoped Pierce would return to Washington next season.
“I hope he comes back,” Leonsis told Monumental Network. “His deal is, he can say ‘I want to come back,’ and he would be welcomed with open arms. He might say, ‘I don’t want to come back, I want to negotiate,’ and we would do that. He might say, ‘I want to go somewhere else.’ He’s earned that.”
- Mike Fiammetta