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Report: Pierce to opt out of Celtics contract

Jun 29, 2010, 11:31 PM EDT

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ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting that Celtics forward Paul Pierce will opt out of the final year of his contract with the team, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. The last year of his contract was worth 21.5 million dollars. Pierce has been a Celtic since Boston drafted him in 1998. 
While this news could be the first step towards the dismantling of the Celtics, the more likely story is that Pierce’s decision was motivated by the current and future NBA economic climate. This summer will be one of the biggest free agency summers ever. Next summer might be a different story entirely. 
The current collective bargaining agreement expires after this season, and many experts believe there will be a lockout or labor dispute of some kind. If a labor stoppage does occur, top free agents may have to wait to get a contract. 
There is also the distinct possibility that the next CBA could be much less player-friendly than the current one. Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal both had their gigantic pre-CBA contracts grandfathered in when the last CBA was signed; the same thing will likely happen for all the free agents that sign a max or near-max deal this off-season. Because of that and the possibility of a lockout, there is major incentive for players to get a deal done this summer instead of the summer of 2011, especially since so many teams have cap space now.
Some of the teams with cap space to burn will likely make a play for Pierce this summer. Pierce’s hometown Clippers, who have a hole at small forward, will almost certainly have some interest in Pierce if they can’t pull off a miracle and sign LeBron James. It’s possible that Pierce will end up with the Clippers, but the more likely scenario is that Pierce will use the Clippers’ perceived interest as leverage and pressure the Celtics into giving him a multi-year deal. 
Assuming Stein’s report is accurate, both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are now unrestricted free agents. The Celtics hold both Allen and Pierce’s “Bird rights,” meaning that they can pay both Allen and Pierce regardless of Boston’s salary cap number. Because of Boston’s encouraging playoff run and those “Bird rights,” Boston will likely be able to keep the “Big Three” together if they really want to. 
However, keeping both Pierce and Allen will cost a lot of money, and both players showed their age at times last season. The time for Danny Ainge and Co. to make some tough choices about the future of the Celtics is now. In the coming weeks, we’ll see just how much Ainge is willing to pay for the chance to give Rajon Rondo and the “Big Three” one or two more chances at raising banner #18. 
  1. Zack - Jun 29, 2010 at 11:57 PM

    So in the negotiation room, is he going to hit the deck, get wheeled out, then come back after 45 seconds and sign on the dotted line?

  2. Jon - Jun 30, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    That’s exactly what’s going to happen! lol

  3. Kalin - Jun 30, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    So if Pierce, Allen, and Sheed are all off the books, whats stopping the C’s from making a run at Lebron and another max contract? Could they start Rondo, Wade, Lebron, Garnett?

  4. Tim - Jun 30, 2010 at 12:48 AM

    Garnett is due to RETIRE – man I saw game 7 & it’s obvious time. He was 1 foot in front to rim & he opted to do a little layup that was blocked by Gasol. Man, should have dunk the damn ball & get foul! It’s obvious he was out of energy & showed his age

  5. Patrick - Jun 30, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    Actually Joe, I think Pierce will get stabbed 11 times, undergo lung surgery, and still play 82 games. Or did you conveniently forget about that like the incident in Eagle, co.

  6. Joe - Jun 30, 2010 at 6:53 AM

    Why re-sign Pierce or Allen?
    LeBron James and Chris Bosh can now become Celtics. If Ainge can manage to keep Doc Rivers then it’ll be a good draw for James. Let Garnett come off the bench wit’ his tired self.

  7. agnostica - Jun 30, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    Maybe us Celtics fans actually LIKE Pierce, Allen and Garnett? Although, I’ve gotta admit, Allen really blew it in the Finals series. Aside from his record-setting game, he was horrendous. Yeah, they’re getting old but give them some due credit. They’re all All-Stars, probably all Hall-of-Famers, and they went against the Lakers, an obviously younger, swifter team, and drew them to 7 games and ended up only losing by 4. Granted they blew their lead they held for 3 quarters, but seriously, I like them. I want to see them play together, at least for another year. If they can’t do anything in the playoffs this coming year, then I say bring in some new, young blood.

  8. charlie - Jun 30, 2010 at 8:30 AM

    Boo-Hoo Agnostica! It was a team that was put together by two old celtics! consider your self lucky on winning 1 you guys won’t win no more with those washed up players. Lakers will dominate even if they put those 3 idiots together in Miami. Lebron hurts his legs next year and he becomes another grant hill or jeff kemp. Lakers catch Bostons 17 championships next year and past them following year to get 18. Kobe retires as the greatest player ever and Jordan slips away as a blip on the NBA radar. I love L.A.

  9. srfsteve - Jun 30, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Short comment – Charlie = Scumbag!!!!

  10. deb - Jun 30, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    agnostica – no one else is cussing in this discussion. You can make your point without it.
    The Celtics gave us one heck of a good season, much to Doc River’s credit. Given the Celt’s ages and injuries, the cards were stacked against them, but they took us to game 7 and a very exciting game 7. The GM new what he was doing when he assembled this team and he new they had an “expiration” date. I think Pierce is still a starter. He still has alot of fire-power. I do agree with others, that perhaps Garnett (have been a Garnett fan for many years) and R. Allen should come off the bench. Bosh would be an excellent choice. But defensive-driven River’s is the heart and soul of the current Celtics, so it will be a while before we see another solid Celtics team and he will probably be gone. It all starts there. Then Rondo, Pierce, Perkins, Bosh? and ???
    By the way – Kobe was not found guilty of rape.
    I think Orlando is the team to watch next season if they get rid of Gundy and gets a coach who knows how to motivate and focus young players.

  11. Viz - Jun 30, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    Lets not get it twisted. Yes L.A. received the title this year and nothing can be said about that anymore. Please take note that Boston hand wrapped and presented the title to L.A. though. Boston completely blew game 7. The Lakers didnt still it, it was given to them. That was just brutal.
    Paul Pierce can still hold his own when need be. Age is definitely catching up to all 3 though. I would love to see them win next year, but I’m just not sure they have it in them anymore.
    Kobe being better than Jordan? Seriously? Anyone with ANY KIND of basketball IQ and was around to see both him and Kobe play, knows that isnt even a comparison. What Kobe did in Game 7 would NEVER happen with Jordan. He would NEVER disappear in a game 7. Kobe is a great player, but Kobe does not have that same clutch killer instinct that Jordan had. Kobe tries and he does well most of the time, but Jordan was UNSTOPPABLE come playoff time. He made it a point to rip out his opponents heart and almost embarrass them.
    Another thing, IF Wade, Lebron and Bosh do join and play in Miami…….NO ONE has a chance next year. They would demolish the Lakers. That isnt me being a Laker hater, that is me being realistic.

  12. Cat - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    Actually Patrick, I will enjoy hearing that you, not Pierce, will get stabbed 11 times, undergo lung surgery, and still be a waste of oxygen. Or did you conveniently forget that no one gives a rat’s ass what you think.

  13. agnostica - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    I have a bit of an anger management problem, lol. Seriously, though, I just can’t handle complete morons, so I just go off on them instead. But thank you for having a level-head about yourself and for giving the Celtics their due credit. Shows someone who actually appreciates basketball instead of just a bandwagoner.
    And I realize that no, he was not found guilty of rape, but I like to use that one every time a Laker fan with a disgusting attitude comes my way. There was still an investigation about it. Remember OJ and how he wasn’t found guilty? We all know the truth there…
    Anyways, I hope Rivers sticks it out with the Celtics but losing Thibodeaux doesn’t help their defensive cause. That’s where they’ve had it best the last few years: strict, tough, unrelenting defense, and without that I don’t know if they’ll be able to put up as much of a fight.
    As I said before, I just want to see at least one more terrific season out of the Big 3. If they bow out early, then I agree it might finally be time to starting looking for some new, young and fresh players. And as Viz below says, if that big trade with LeBron, Wade and Bosh actually goes to one team, like Miami, they’ve got it in the bag.

  14. Deb - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    You have a strong argument about a Wade, James, Bosh Miami team. I really wouldn’t want that to happen though. For me, one of the best things about a new basketball season is seeing which team has all the right ingredients and is going to shine. A Miami team with that much talent would take the anticipation out of it. Kind of like when Jordan/Pippen dominated. It was pretty much a forgone conclusion and I enjoyed watching the aerial manuevers, and the super-human cuts to the basket, you kind of always new how it would end. Pippen deserves his props when talking about Jordan.

  15. cat - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    Deb, he wasn’t found guilty of rape because she consented to CONVENTIONAL sex with the philandering ass. She DID NOT consent to ANAL sex, so he IS A RAPIST.

  16. agnostica - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    Pippen was one of the best #2 man in all of NBA history. He certainly deserves his credit. Jordan would not have excelled quite as easily had it not been for Pippen, or even some explosive defense by Rodman and the rest of that Bulls team.

  17. wes unseld - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    who cares, let him go, let him stay, the Celtics are done either way…all he does is flop and cry….like most of the other Celtics he is over rated. i doubt anyone eles wants him and his bad acting. wonder if he still thinks he is better then kobe????

  18. wes unseld - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    Kobe is not a rapist, this little tramp came to a mans hotel room at 2am, what did she think she was going there for, to play cards? as for the anal thing, how the hell do you know what kind of sex she was into, were you there, damn the found 3 different sperm types in her panties, yike what a slut, at least chnage your underwear between tricks..get over it…..

  19. wes unseld - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    you are a idiot, shut the hell up, please…

  20. jessiecruz - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    The Celtics were only a few plays from being champions and talk is of dismantling the team? Are you guys idiots?

  21. Anonymous - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    I am not defending his actions. He was not convicted of a crime and in the bloggisphere, people keep bringing that into the discussion, when the discussion is about basketball. I am a Kobe the basketball player fan, and his wife, family and friends, and the courts, can judge the personal man. For alot of reasons, the whole thing in Colorado was wrong, but that is another discussion and I do not have enough details to discuss, other than what was in the media. Ben Rothenburger (probably have his name wrong), and many others have also been accused and or convicted of things we think are dispicable. How much goes on that we never find out about so doesn’t enter the discussion. But to keep the conversation pure, my personal preference when talking about sports abilities, is to keep those things out cause it complicates the conversation with salacious issues. As a woman, I have enogh opinions and thoughts about that case and cases like it, I could write a book, but is not part of my admiration for his basketball skills. Damn, we have gotten way off track, this article began with Paul Pierce, LOL!

  22. Deb - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    The above comment from anonymous was from me

  23. agnostica - Jun 30, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Ah, another pathetic bandwagoner, I see? Kobe will never be Jordan, and your Lakers only won by 4 points. Not a blowout. The Celtics don’t suck. Get over yourself and get the hell out of here you ignorant worm. Real basketball fans don’t say the crap that spews from your 4th-grade-level mouth.

  24. agnostica - Jun 30, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    Oh, and one last thing – before you start calling people idiots, you may want to check your grammar there, chief. Way to fail.

  25. Pistol - Jun 30, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    C’s can’t sign LeBron and Wade (or any two max players that they don’t have). They have about $15 mil, enough for about one max player, but not enough for one of the top three guys who will make well over $20 million a year.
    Love Pierce, but it is gonna be time for him to go. Danny can’t give a 32 year old Pierce a 4 year contract @ 20 per.
    And, how did this turn into a talk about Kobe being a rapist? Patrick, you’re probably just mad because he didn’t give you his black mamba after he gave it to that Colorado ho.
    Pierce to Clippers???? Baron Davis, Pierce, and Blake Griffin in the starting 5?

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