Paul Pierce could realistically be gearing up for his final season with the Boston Celtics in 2012-13.
Pierce told The Boston Globe in an interview published Saturday that he did not plan to ask for an extension that would presumably allow the 34-year-old forward to finish his career with the Celtics, the only team for which he has played in 14 NBA seasons. Pierce has one year left on his contract, and the Celtics have a team option for the 2013-14 season.
Pierce said that he wanted to taste free agency for the first time in his career.
“I think I am going to play this one out,” he told the Globe's Gary Washburn. “I want to see what it feels like to be a free agent for once in my life. I think I am going to play this one out. A lot can change in two years. My body [may not] be where I want it to be, I could retire, a lot of things could happen. I love the game. I made as much money as I possibly can. It’s about winning a championship and if I feel like it’s the right thing to do, maybe so [come back]. If I solidify my third year, maybe they opt out, so it’s about keeping your options open.”
Pierce will be 35 at the start of the season. He has been slow to show a decline in overall production, averaging 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game last season. But he was hampered by a sprained MCL during the Celtics' playoff run, which ended at the hands of the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
In the interview with the Globe, Pierce also echoed comments he gave to the Celtics official website, saying that former Celtics guard Ray Allen made the decision "that's best for him and his family" by signing with the Miami Heat.
Even without Allen, though, Pierce expressed excitement with the way general manager Danny Ainge has retooled the team going into 2012-13. The Celtics re-signed Kevin Garnett to a three-year contract, brought back Brandon Bass and Jeff Green and signed guards Jason Terry and Courtney Lee.