Veteran forward Paul Pierce has decided to opt out of his second, and final, year with the Washington Wizards and will become a free agent, according to the Players Tribune. It is clear that Pierce would like to play at least one more season, but this decision puts the location in doubt.
Despite opting out, there is still a chance that Pierce will return to Washington, according to J. Michael of CSN Washington. Michael noted that Wizards are able to pay $1.1 million more than Pierce earned last season ($5.5 million). This is a significant amount more than the other contenders for Pierce are willing to offer.
Paul Pierce has expressed his optimism about the direction that the Wizards are heading, per Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.
"We really have a really good young team... I thought we were better than Atlanta... I really like our team."
Pierce averaged a career-worst 11.9 points per game this past season, but during the playoffs, he did average 14.6 on just 10 shots per game. It is clear that Pierce can still play, and he showed in the playoffs that he still has a knack for clutch performances.
If Pierce were to return to the Wizards, he would be coming back to a talented backcourt made up of John Wall and Bradley Beal, but it is possible Pierce believes he still has a better chance of winning a title elsewhere. The ability to win a championship is, most likely, the main reason behind Pierce's decision.
One other team that Pierce has expressed interest in is the Los Angeles Clippers, which would reunite him with former Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
InsideSoCal.com's Robert Morales cited a league source early this month that the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in bringing Pierce aboard.
Pierce attempted to move to Los Angeles last season, but the Clippers were unable to swing a deal financially, and that may be the case again this offseason. The Clippers have a tight salary cap situation and may not be able to give Pierce the money that the Wizards are offering.
Wherever Pierce decides to finish playing, he can know that he has accomplished more than most players could even dream of. Pierce has nothing left to prove. It will be interesting to see where Pierce ends up now that he is up for grabs.
The 2015 NBA free agency period begins on July 1.
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