It’s hard to say at this moment how much the Washington Wizards got stronger or weaker for signing Paul Pierce while losing Trevor Ariza, but it’s quite clear that the Brooklyn Nets are turning out to be the biggest losers of this free agency period.
Pierce hasn’t signed for a title contender, but definitely a team on the rise. After losing Trevor Ariza to the Houston Rockets, the Washington Wizards weren’t about to let the work that’s been done there since drafting John Wall go to waste, and signed Paul Pierce. Is he the best small forward out there? Maybe not, but the Wizards also had money limitations which meant Loul Deng was probably a bit too high for them to reach.
Pierce has signed a two-year deal worth $11 million. Who knows – maybe it’s the last contract he signs in his NBA career, which will be entering its 17th season when 2014-2015 begins. Pierce played all of his career for the Boston Celtics before pushing to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets last season, where he continued to team up with Kevin Garnett. The expensive and ambitious experiment failed, as the Nets, the highest paying team in the league, were knocked out in the conference semifinals in five games by the Miami Heat.
Pierce was a model of inconsistency. He did average 13.5 points in 28 minutes, but like the rest of his teammates, he went through the motions regularly, and especially on consecutive nights of playing basketball. He might be more experienced and maybe a better offensive player than Ariza is at the moment, but he cannot contribute in long stretches of time, not to mention his defense not being up to par with what they lost when Ariza left.
Trotting in the same place might be the best way to describe the Wizards. Yes, John Wall and Bradley Beal should be better than they were last season. There are also two or three talented players coming off the bench, hopefully a bit more grown up and ready to contribute, especially Otto Porter who was one of the most disappointing rookies from the previous class. There’s also a frontcourt with Nene and Gortat. Things aren’t that bad.
But if this season was about taking another step – from conference semifinalists to a team that might be able to make a threat at the crown in the Eastern conference, the Wizards fell way short of that mark. They were able to keep one of their free agents which is something for a team that isn’t exactly known for being a magnet for big-time players, but there’s a feeling that for know, with preseason expectations and predictions going on, the Wizards got slightly weaker.