Maybe the Brooklyn Nets will get to keep Paul Pierce eventually, especially if getting paid is more important to him than being on a team that can contend, as they seem to be the only ones even close to willing to accommodate what seem to be some outrageous demands in terms of salary.
Paul Pierce wants to play for a team that can win a championship, something the Brooklyn Nets clearly can’t do. However, Paul Pierce also wants to be paid around $9-10 million a season, something no contender is willing to give him. Maybe he forgot how bad he looked during the conference semifinals or half the series against the Raptors. Players who average 13.5 points per game don’t get eight figures annually on their salary, especially when they’re turning 37 when next season begins and don’t have a lot more than scoring to offer.
The Nets are in something of a bind. They don’t have any room for new signings because of their enormous wage bill, which doesn’t seem to bother their owner. They’re offering Pierce around $6 million next season, and maybe both sides will eventually settle for around $8 million a season, something that will increase the Nets’ tax bill from $30.68 million to $54.48 million because of the penalty.
The Clippers are also interested in Pierce, but unless he accepts the veteran’s minimum, the only way it’s going to happen will be via a sign-and-trade. The Clippers already used their mid-level exception on Spencer Hawes, and Pierce is hoping to get more money than what the MLE can give him. This leaves him in a complicated spot in terms of the money he can demand, because there isn’t a whole lot the Clippers have to offer for the Nets to accept.
Pierce has been in the NBA for 16 seasons and is still a starting-level player. Heck, he even plays like an All-Star on plenty of nights. But consistency hasn’t been part of his arsenal over the last season. His defense is here and there before going away, and being able to contribute night after night for close to 30 minutes just isn’t something he’s up to anymore. A good player, but certainly not one worth using around 15% of the salary cap on, not anymore.