Paul Pierce (Geoff Burke, USATODAY)
We still haven’t grown accustomed to seeing Paul Pierce in a Washington Wizards uniform. According to the Boston Celtics’ legend and former Brooklyn Net, though, watching star players don different jerseys is something with which we’ll be forced to become far more comfortable as time goes on.
In a video interview with the The Associated Press, the 37 year-old Pierce maintains that fewer players will play extended stretches for the same franchise going forward and calls free agent movement “a great thing for our league.” Pierce’s comments on the developing NBA landscape begin at the :45 mark of the video below:
The days are long gone of seeing that one player married to one franchise. I mean, I was lucky to play 15 years [in one place] – Kobe [Bryant] is lucky to play as many years, [Tim] Duncan, Dirk [Nowitzki]. But I think those days are over to where you’re going to see star players in different places, and it’s going to create more balance.
People love…they can’t wait for the NBA Finals, but they can’t wait for offseason moves, either. It’s a great thing for our league; frustrating for Vegas. Like I said, it’s probably more balanced than I’ve seen in a long, long time…
It’s certainly refreshing to hear a member of the old-guard admit the league is changing, but especially so because Pierce deems that shift a good thing. The future Hall-of-Famer continues on to say that the league’s massive new TV contract is evidence that more and more people are interested in the NBA, and counts increased balance as means of that boom.
And though so many fans of Kobe, Dirk, and Timmy surely disagree, Pierce is right. League intrigue has never been higher, and so much of that has to do with the summer’s annual free agency saga. The new collective bargaining agreement not only limits the length of contracts to a maximum of five years, but also gives star players more financial incentive to swim free agent waters than re-up with their incumbent teams. The result are crazy summers like this one, when LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony held league business hostage by testing the free agent market.
Veteran stars like Chris Bosh and Pau Gasol were available, too, while young up-and-comers Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons, Eric Bledsoe, and Greg Monroe furthered maniacal interest in offseason news by playing the restricted free agency game. July was absolutely wild, and major cap increases in each of the next three seasons ensures that more players will exercise opt-out clauses or sign short-term deals to cash-in before decision-makers get an ideal grasp of how to best deal with hose spikes.
There is indeed an offseason in the NBA, but the incessant summer news cycle covering potential or imminent player movement sure makes it far from feeling like one. And like Pierce says, that’s a great thing for the league. Do purists like it? Probably not, and coaches who understand the extreme value of continuity to our utmost team sport surely aren’t fans, either.
The league is thriving either way, though, and the future possibilities of free agency – Kevin Durant is available in 2016! – is chief among many reasons why.
Do you agree with Pierce?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.