Paul Pierce had been rumored to be heading to either Los Angeles or back to Brooklyn, but ultimately he surprised everyone and will be heading to the nation’s capital next season and will play for the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards really wanted to bring Trevor Ariza back. Every major media outlet was reporting that the Wizards were highly interested in bringing back the 3-and-D small forward back.
However, Ariza agreed to a four-year, $32 million dollar deal with the Houston Rockets.
Ariza was an integral part of the Wizards successful playoff run last season. He averaged 14.4 points per game on 40.7 percent from 3-point land while also being the Wizards best perimeter defender.
This was all during a contract year, but regardless, people in D.C. are not fired up about basketball again if Ariza does not have the year he had last year.
With all that said, I absolutely love the signing of Paul Pierce. Two years for $11 million is fantastic.
When the Wizards signed center Marcin Gortat to a five-year, $60 million deal, I thought this franchise was heading right back to what it has been, a franchise that was so obsessed with what was right in front of them that they had no idea what could be theirs.
A few days after the Gortat deal, I thought we were going to get the inevitable four years, $44 million deal for Ariza. I really thought it was going to happen.
There was no question in my mind.
But they didn’t.
They got Paul Pierce. The Truth. A world champion. One of the hardest workers in the league. A guy that played his guts out for a lowly Celtics team in the early 2000s.
Winning was great for the young, dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, but wait till they play under the wraps of a guy like Pierce. It means something to play with a champion. It really does.
And let’s face it. Pierce at a little less than $6 million a year for only two years is a much better contract than Ariza for $8 million for four years.
It is not even the contract. Pierce is probably a better player.
Pierce went into a tough position last season. Was he supposed to be the star? That is always something tough to decipher. Can Jason Kidd coach? Kevin Garnett was a shell of himself. As we all saw, the Nets got off to a horrible start. Being in a complicated situation fueled that.
Regardless, when Pierce was at his best, so were the Nets. It may have taken him a few months and you can most likely attribute that to what is above, but the Nets got it done because Paul Pierce got it done.
From January through March, the Nets went 29-12. Paul Pierce, at age 36, averaged 14.5 points per game while shooting 40.3 percent from beyond the arc. He had a true shooting percentage of 63.2. He had a usage percentage of 22.5. Ariza was used at a 17.8 rate.
And Pierce was the leader of that Nets team. He was their soul. Remember this?
Paul Pierce is coming to the nation’s capital on a very favorable deal. And the Wizards didn’t get sucked up in one year of success and give Ariza $10+ million a year. Pierce will bring a whole new swagger to a franchise that desperately needs one.