I’m not thrilled this came up today while this series, technically, is still going on…. but Paul Pierce was asked about his future as a Celtic. Here’s part of what he said
“Truthfully, I haven’t put too much thought into [the future],” Pierce said at the team’s morning shootaround at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics and Knicks clash in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference first-round series on Wednesday night.
“The organization is going to do what they’re going to do. There’s nothing that’s stressing me out. That’s what it is. Every year they’ve got decisions to make and those are their decisions. So I’ll leave it to them.”
A few days ago, I put the question out to you guys via Twitter to answer the question: What should Paul Pierce’s role be on the Celtics next year? A lot of you answered, and here’s a sampling of those responses. Keep in mind, these tweets I chose are representative of many similar sentiments. Not everyone who answered is featured here, but we thank you all for your replies.
Sad to say but Paul needs to retire. Just doesn’t have it anymore #RedsArmy
— Roy Sanchez (@RSan87) April 27, 2013
— Ryan Nevill (@rnevill) April 27, 2013
A couple of variations there of the “Pierce should hang them up” sentiment. There are plenty of people who say that it’s time for him to go. For what it’s worth, he’s not thinking along those lines:
“Well, I always said I want to end my career as a Celtic,” said Pierce. “But they’re the ones — I have a contract for next year, but it’s not guaranteed. So the decision is in their hands. Whatever decisions they make, maybe if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else, maybe it can be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire a Celtic.”
I’m pretty sure Pierce is going to play next year. And while it’s very much up in the air as to what will happen to this Celtics roster, here’s one thing to consider: The Celtics payroll next year with Pierce is about $76 million. Without Pierce it’s $61 million. The salary cap this past season was $58 million.
There’s a tax benefit to going next year without Pierce, but it’s not like giving up his $15 million deal give the Celtics $15 million to work with. In fact, depending on other moves they make, it might not affect the amount of money the Celtics have to spend at all.
A few people still like Pierce as the starter. He is the captain. And when you consider the financials from before, it makes some sense. You can put him on the KG plan with more limited minutes. Life changes with Rondo, though, back next year. Your starting back court will be Rondo and Bradley. Where does Pierce fit if Jeff Green has earned a spot as a starter? Which brings us to…
— DonaldTower (@boceltics18) April 27, 2013
This was a fairly popular answer, and this is where I’m starting to fall, especially when you take into account how well Jared Sullinger was playing. Remember, he earned a starting spot too.
Now we’re looking at a potential starting line up of Rondo, Bradley, Green, Sullinger, and Garnett. For that to be effective, Bradley will have to really improve on his 3-point shooting so he could make teams pay from the corner. You could play pick-and-pop with Sullinger and Garnett, and Green takes over the role of slasher. Pierce can come off the bench early, but still be one of the team’s finisher’s, replacing either Bradley or Sullinger, depending on the situation (or Green, if need be).
Of course, this all speculation that hinges on a few assumptions. We don’t know what’s going to happen yet. Kevin Garnett could decide to retire and that would dramatically change the Celtics’ course of action. It also assumes the Celtics could find a trade partner that they find suitable. Pierce said today he fully plans on returning next season. If the Celtics don’t want him, they’ll have to trade him. Trading him means taking back approximately $15 million (unless they find something suitable with a team under the cap).
It’s very complicated, and the nuances are better suited for a piece later in the offseason. For now, I’d anticipate Pierce coming back. How he fits into the team next year will be an interesting thing to watch over the summer and fall.