No matter when he decides to retire, Paul Pierce will probably be five years away from the Hall of Fame. However, that day may come sooner than anyone anticipated. At age 38 and with training camp less than three weeks away, Pierce is reportedly still deciding whether to return for his 19th NBA season.
That bit of insider information comes from Pierce’s coach with the Clippers, Doc Rivers, who also coached Pierce during some of his best seasons with the Celtics. Although it was reported last month that Pierce was definitely returning, Rivers said he hasn’t decided for sure.
“Depends on the day I talk to him,” Rivers said during an appearance Tuesday in Boston. “Paul has had the summer, he’s gone back and forth. … Paul didn’t have the best year last year. I don’t think he wants to go out that way. So I think that’s why he’s working to try to come back. But he still may change his mind next week. So we just have to wait. I told him if I see him at training camp, I’m assuming he’s playing.”
Rivers added that Pierce needs to retire as a Celtic, presumably with a one-day ceremonial contract. And although Pierce will always be associated with Boston, he hasn’t worn kelly green since the 2012/13 season, playing one year each for the Nets, Wizards and Clippers since then.
Pierce has been slipping for a while, as can be expected of any player in his late 30s, but the dropoff last season was sharp. He played in 68 games, but averaged just 6.1 points in 18.1 minutes, both career lows. In addition, his shooting percentages were way down — 36% from the field and 31% from 3-point range. He played less than 11 minutes per game in the playoff loss to the Blazers.
Pierce still has two seasons and $7.2MM left on the contract he signed with the Clippers last summer, but he made it clear at the time that he didn’t intend to play out the entire deal. As the clock ticks toward training camp, the question seems to be whether he wants to put his body through the rigors of one more NBA season.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Should Pierce try to play in 2016/17 or should he join all-time greats Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan in what is shaping up to be a legendary 2021 hall of fame class? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.