The Wizards Could Regress If Pierce Opts Out of His Contract

Rumor has it that Washington Wizards’ small forward Paul Pierce will opt out of his contract to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and join former coach Doc Rivers for one more shot at a ring before retirement. This would be excellent news for the Clippers, but a tough blow to the continued progress the Wizards are hoping to make next season.pierce

The Wizards were one of the feel good stories in the league this season. They had been a lousy franchise for awhile, but the emergence of John Wall at the point and Bradley Beal at shooting guard gave the Wizards one of the most exciting backcourts in the NBA. Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario are solid players at center and power forward, respectively, but the glue that held this team together this season was the veteran presence of the 37 year-old Pierce.

Despite averaging career lows of 11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for the Wizards during the 2014-2015 regular season, Pierce provided veteran leadership and mentored Beal and Wall. In the playoffs, Pierce elevated his game using the mental toughness that allowed him to be named an NBA All-Star ten times in his career. In game three against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Pierce banked a stepback fadeaway that banked off the glass at the buzzer to give the Wizards escaped a 103-101 win in regulation. Pierce hit an apparent game-tying three pointer in game six of the same series that would have forced a game seven, but video showed the ball was still in Pierce’s hands as the buzzer sounded. His play in the Hawks’ series was a great way to model how his Wizards’ teammates will need to step up their game to get beyond the second round whether he remains in Washington or leaves.

Pierce to the Clippers makes a lot of sense. The series loss against the Hawks really took its toll on him. Said Pierce after the Wizards were eliminated.

“Truthfully, what was going through my mind is, I don’t have too much of these efforts left, if any. These rides throughout the NBA season, throughout the playoffs, are very emotional. They take a lot out of not only your body, but your mind, your spirit…. I don’t even know if I’m going to play basketball anymore.”

But, heading to the Clippers would be good for both Pierce and the NBA franchise that has never advanced to the Western Conference finals. Pierce attended high school in Inglewood, California which is near Los Angeles. He would be joining Rivers who was his coach from 2004 to 2013 when both were with the Boston Celtics and won the NBA title in 2008.

Adding Pierce at the three would be a great move by the Clippers who had a meltdown of their own and blew a 3-1 series lead against the Houston Rockets. Whether Pierce were to start or come off the bench, he would give the Clippers another offensive option. If DeAndre Jordan were to remain with the Clippers, Pierce would mix nicely with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul possibly giving the Clippers enough to advance to the Western Conference finals next season.

If Pierce does opt out of his contract and leave the Wizards, Otto Porter would move into a starting role unless the Wizards address the position in the draft or via free agency. If Porter can regain the form that made him the Big East Player of the Year and a Consensus First-Team All-American in 2013 while at Georgetown, the Wizards could be fine. Porter is still not 22 so he does not provide the veteran leadership that comes with Pierce, but he could be the long-term answer at the three.

This summer will provide some interesting scenarios in the NBA which would be great because I have thoroughly enjoyed this season.

And that’s as I see it!

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