Paul Pierce has been extremely candid about his uncertain playing future since the end of his 17th season. Just five weeks later, though, the future Hall-of-Famer might have already made a decision on his status for 2015-2016. Well, sort of.
According to Jorge Castilla of the Washington Post, Pierce has decided to play next season. The question now is if he’ll be suiting up for the incumbent Washington Wizards or Los Angeles Clippers.
Pierce is set on playing next season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation… The 10-time all-star will likely decide between two teams for his 18th campaign: the Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers.
It’s no secret that Doc Rivers would love to be reunited with the 2008 Finals MVP. The Clippers’ czar courted his former player last summer before Pierce ultimately signed with Washington, and rumblings have already begun that Los Angeles will go after him again come July 1st.
Choosing between the Wizards and Clippers surely won’t be easy for the future Hall-of-Famer. Though his $5.5 million option with Washington is $2 million more than capped-out Los Angeles could offer him, money is surely of little consequence here – Pierce has earned nearly $190 million throughout his career.
The factor that could most determine his decision is which team he deems has the best chance to win a title. That’s the Clippers on first glance, a team with hordes of top-shelf talent that could be a serviceable ancillary piece or two away from a championship. But Chris Paul and company play in the fearsome Western Conference; irrespective of Los Angeles’ quality with respect to the rest of the league, that unenviable reality limits the odds of a Finals appearance.
Conversely, it’s possible the Wizards emerge as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference next season. John Wall is already an elite player on both sides of the ball with room to improve, and Bradley Beal is nearing the cusp of national stardom at the tender age of 21-years-old. If Washington takes a small step forward offensively in 2015-2016, it will be among the most well-rounded groups in basketball.
And while LeBron James’ five consecutive trips to the Finals are daunting, he still only plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. If he or a star teammate succumbs to injury, it’s not difficult to imagine the Wizards beating Cleveland next spring.
Does Pierce want to play for a better team and hope for the best in the playoffs? Or maximize his chance at another title by taking the easiest route to the Finals? There’s no easy answer, especially considering his clear personal affinity for both Los Angeles and Washington.
For now, though, it’s simply heartening to know that Pierce will be back for another run. He’s obviously not the player he once was, but can still provide immense value as a leader and crunch-time shot-maker in his late thirties – a reality he exhibited to the fullest early last month.
And whether he’s playing for the Clippers or Wizards, we can’t wait to watch him do it again.
[Via Washington Post]