JUNE 29TH, 3:29pm: Pierce has officially opted out, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).
JUNE 27TH, 2:43pm: Pierce has confirmed his decision via The Players’ Tribune (Twitter link).
JUNE 20TH, 5:07pm: Wizards forward Paul Pierce plans to opt out of his deal with the team for the 2015/16 campaign, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports, though he intends to continue to play in the NBA next season, a source told Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The veteran has a player option worth $5,543,725 that he’s poised to bypass, and doing so would make him an unrestricted free agent come July 1st. Pierce was non-committal regarding whether or not he would return for an 18th season in the wake of Washington’s elimination from the NBA playoffs.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Pierce said at the time. “I don’t even know if I am going to play basketball anymore. These seasons get harder and harder every year, every day. Summers get even harder when you start getting back in shape. I’m 37 years old. I’m top two or three oldest in the league.” Pierce had indicated that he would take some time and discuss the matter with his family before making his call on next season. “I have been playing this game [for] like 32 years. Since I was a little kid. Probably going to be the hardest thing to do is put the game down. But I know that time is coming one day. I am not sure if it is this year or next year. I will sit down with my family and figure things out,” Pierce said.
The question now is which team Pierce will suit up for in 2015/16, with Castillo writing that he’ll either re-sign with the Wizards or join his former coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles with the Clippers. The Clippers can offer Pierce the taxpayer mid-level exception worth slightly less than $3.4MM, while Washington could offer Pierce a new deal starting in excess of $6MM once he opts out, Stein notes. The interest is mutual between the Clippers and Pierce, a league source told Robert Morales of the Long Beach Press-Telegram earlier this month.
The link between the Clippers and Pierce dates back to last year, as Pierce informed TNT’s David Aldridge this past fall that he saw the Clippers as his favored alternative to re-signing with the Nets before sign-and-trade talks between the Clips and Brooklyn broke down. Pierce has also said that he feels a connection with the younger players on the Wizards and with the city of Washington.
Pierce appeared in 73 contests for the Wizards this past season, averaging 11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 26.2 minutes per night. His career numbers through 1,250 games are 20.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 3.74 APG. The 37-year-old’s shooting numbers are .447/.371/.806.