The Brooklyn Nets recently turned down a sign-and-trade opportunity proposed by the Los Angeles Clippers. L.A offered Brooklyn’s choice of Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley, or Reggie Bullock in exchange for Nets’ veteran forward Paul Pierce.
Brooklyn is demanding either sharpshooter J.J. Redick or a future first-round pick in return for Pierce, who’s currently an unrestricted free agent. Because of their lack of cap space, the Clippers can’t afford to simply go after Pierce on the open market, making a sign-and-trade necessary.
Was this the right decision by L.A.? I don’t think so.
The Clippers need a starting small forward. Badly.
Neither Matt Barnes nor Jared Dudley are legitimate enough starters for a team trying to win the wildly competitive Western Conference. Additionally, L.A. could use an experienced, clutch performer to help them go deep in the playoffs after being bounced out in the second-round or earlier in each of the past three seasons.
This was their chance to acquire the perfect fit in Paul Pierce.
As I detailed in a previous article, Pierce was the Nets’ most important player in their first round, seven-game playoff series victory over Toronto. He hit a game-winner in Game 1, and had a series-saving block to deflate the Raptors’ hopes in the final seconds of Game 7.
Sure, he’s getting older, declining a bit. And sure, his game isn’t quite the same as it used to be.
But “The Truth” is still a knockdown shooter, a solid team defender, and, most importantly, clutch.
If all that wasn’t enough, there’s the obvious Doc Rivers-Paul Pierce connection that would be rekindled with the acquisition of Pierce by the Clippers.
Not to mention, Pierce is from southern California.
With all this lined up and working in their favor, I really think L.A. shouldn’t give up so easily on their attempt to sign-and-trade for Pierce. Nevertheless, it’s not the end of the world for the Clippers if they don’t eventually land the former Celtics’ star; they’re still one of the best teams in the league.
Although even more questions, regrets, and doubts will come at them with full force next year if they fail to make the Western Conference Finals yet again.
Was this the right decision by Brooklyn? There haven’t been many chances to say this about Nets management lately, but … yes. Good call.
Sending away Pierce in return for merely an average role player would be a huge mistake by the Nets, even if it means losing the chance to cut salary. If they do indeed decide to part ways with Pierce, Brooklyn needs real value in return.
So, what does it tell us if Brooklyn’s not simply willing to relinquish Paul Pierce for nothing? With one more season of Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko, and Brook Lopez under contract, the Nets could be planning to go all in for one last year with their current core group, before starting to retool and get younger next summer.
Looks like Brooklyn isn’t in money-saving, thinking-about-the-future mode, just yet. They’re still in the “win now” mindset.
How much winning, exactly? That remains to be seen.