If Paul Pierce doesn’t retire, the Los Angeles Clippers are hoping that he opts out of his remaining year with the Washington Wizards and comes to play for them in another attempt at making a geriatric title run.
Pierce has a player option worth $5.5 million next season. The Clippers won’t be able to offer him that. They’ll be paying a lot of money to just six players if DeAndre Jordan does get a max or close to it deal, and the MLE option will be the mini one, worth $3.7 million. But aging veterans, even ones as good as Pierce, are expected to take the minimum so they’ll help their team out.
Pierce was supposed to come to the Clippers along with Doc Rivers two years ago, but the league ruined those plans for the Clippers and Celtics. Pierce went to the Nets and lost in the conference semifinals. He then signed on a two-year deal with the Washington Wizards and lost in the conference semifinals. Now, he has the option of retiring, staying in Washington or opt out and join a team that lost in… the conference semifinals.
It’s going to be difficult actually improving the Clippers without players making these kinds of concessions. The Clippers managed to beat the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, possibly the most difficult rival possible. But then came their inexplicable collapse against the Rockets, and they’re left wondering what’s it going to take for them to make a title challenge.
Pierce, obviously, off the bench or in the lineup instead of a limited Matt Barnes, would make a huge difference. But is it in his best interest to leave the Wizards for less money to a stacked West and join the Clippers, playing under a head coach he won a championship together? Doesn’t sound too bad on paper, and Pierce is from Los Angeles. However, even players who have made $184 million in their careers have a hard time leaving money on the table.