JUNE 1ST, 5:26pm: The Clippers indeed have interest in pursuing Pierce again this summer, a league source tells Robert Morales of the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
MAY 25TH, 12:22pm: Many around the league believe that Paul Pierce will opt out of his deal with the Wizards and join the Clippers for the home stretch of his career, as TNT’s David Aldridge writes within his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. That would run counter to Wizards coach Randy Wittman‘s apparent confidence that Pierce will pick up his nearly $5.544MM option and return to Washington. Pierce, who’ll turn 38 in October, left it open-ended in the wake of Washington’s playoff elimination about whether he would even play next season, echoing comments he made in January.
The link between the Clippers and Pierce dates back to last year, as Pierce told 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. Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers was Pierce’s coach for nine seasons with the Celtics, and Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell played a major role in luring Pierce to the Wizards this past summer before he joined the Clippers staff. Still, the Clippers, if they succeed in their efforts to re-sign DeAndre Jordan, almost certainly won’t have the capacity to give Pierce as much for next season as he would make if he picked up his option, as I explained earlier when I looked at the offseason ahead in Los Angeles. The Clippers would have a tough time exceeding the $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level exception for any outside free agent if Jordan comes back.
Pierce has said he feels a connection with the younger players on the Wizards and with the city of Washington. The forward assumed a larger role for the team in the postseason than he had during the regular season, no doubt in part because of his sizzling 52.4% shooting on 63 attempts from behind the arc in the playoffs.
The 10-time All-Star will probably speak with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck this summer about a role with the Boston organization for after he’s done playing, as Pierce told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald in December. Still, Pierce didn’t follow up at that point on his assertion from March of 2014 that he was open to rejoining the Celtics as a player. Pierce and the Rockets had a degree of mutual interest last summer, but a deal didn’t appear likely.