Retirement at season’s end continues to be a consideration for Paul Pierce, who said Wednesday that he’d make his decision about whether to play next season in the summer ahead, according to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. Pierce thought about quitting at the end of last season and said in September that he’d likely retire if the Clippers win the championship, but his latest comments indicate that a decent chance exists that the 38-year-old will walk away even if he doesn’t add to his ring collection in June. He said the thought of retirement has come into his mind as he’s endured a slump this season, one that has him averaging a career-worst 4.1 points per game, as Bolch relays.
“The older you get and the less and less you’re able to do things that you could do before,” Pierce said, “you start thinking about maybe it’s that time.”
Pierce is under contract with the Clippers through 2017/18, with a fully guaranteed salary of nearly $3.528MM for next season and a partial guarantee worth about $1.096MM for the final season of his deal. The Clippers don’t have to let him out of the obligations of his playing contract, so if they press the issue, Pierce could file official retirement papers with the league, a move that would force him to give up his remaining salary, thus taking the money off the team’s books. Official retirement would bar Pierce from making a comeback at any point for one year, unless he receives unanimous approval from all 30 teams, according to Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ.
It seems unlikely that the issue would become contentious, given the close relationship between Pierce and Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who doubles as the team’s president of basketball operations. It wouldn’t have a drastic effect on the team’s cap flexibility if Pierce were to give up his salary for next season, but with more than $77.7MM worth of 2016/17 salary guaranteed to just six players, including Pierce, the Clippers can use all the financial relief they can get, even with the salary cap projected to hit $89MM.
Regardless, Pierce isn’t ready to make the call on retirement just yet, despite having produced five scoreless games this season, an ignominious feat he pulled off just twice in his previous 17 NBA seasons, Bolch notes. Rivers continues to have faith that he’ll bounce back.
“I want him to keep shooting it the way he’s shot it for 17 years, and eventually, it’ll go in,” Rivers said, according to Bolch. “I really believe that.”
Do you think this season should be Pierce’s last? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.