Pierce was a staple in all five of the Nets’ best lineups last year, and he was the most clutch player in their seven-game, first round playoff series win versus Toronto.

Brooklyn Nets: No Pierce, No Playoffs?

On Saturday night, the Brooklyn Nets lost Paul Pierce, as the veteran small forward agreed to a two-year deal with the Washington Wizards.

Pierce’s new contract is for the mid-level exception, which is about $5.3 million for next season, and includes a player option in the second year of the contract.

With his move to our nation’s capital, The Truth slides in-between the electric John Wall/Bradley Beal backcourt and the intimidating Nene/Marcin Gortat front line of what we can assume is next year’s starting lineup for the Wizards.

I think Pierce is a perfect fit in Washington, especially as a replacement for the Houston-bound Trevor Ariza. The Wizards are a young team, and the experience and savvy of Pierce is going to benefit everyone on that roster.

Not to mention, Washington keeps making moves to build on its relatively surprising success last year, recently adding Kris Humphries and perhaps DeJuan Blair, as well.

My question is this: If the Brooklyn Nets were smart enough to reject the Clippers’ pathetic sign-and-trade offer for Pierce earlier, why did they let him walk for nothing now? And not even for more money?!

Of course, Pierce was an unrestricted free agent, so the Wizards weren’t obligated to give the Nets anything in exchange for the former Celtics All-Star. But Pierce still has some real value, and Brooklyn should have pushed for a few nice young players or picks in return.

I mean, just look at the whole Pelicans/Rockets Omer Asik/Trevor Ariza swap. Like, come on, really?

ALL OF A SUDDEN it’s a three-team sign-and-trade? When did this happen?? Hasn’t Omer Asik been on the Pelicans since draft night?! If they can do that, the Nets should be able to get SOMETHING for Pierce, right?!!

(exhales) Whatever …

The real issue is what all of this boils down to on the b-ball court. In my opinion, the loss of Pierce is going to be more devastating for the Brooklyn Nets than most people anticipate. Here’s why I think so.

Although Pierce is aging, he’s doing it gracefully. He’s got the most left in the tank out of Boston’s old Big Three, and his game has evolved into that of a savvy vet who, perhaps doesn’t score as much, but does all the little things and hits all the big shots.

He was a staple in all five of the Nets’ best lineups last year, according to basketball-reference.com (only Joe Johnson joins Pierce in that club), and he was the most clutch player in their seven-game, first-round playoff series win versus Toronto. I might even venture to say that, without Pierce, the Brooklyn Nets would have lost said series.

So, how does this translate to next year? Here are my current Eastern Conference predictions for next season (as of July 16):

Can LeBron lift Cleveland from 10th-seed in the East last year all the way to number one?

 

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Wizards
  3. Bulls
  4. Raptors
  5. Pacers
  6. Heat
  7. Hornets
  8. …?

Cleveland got LeBron James.

Washington took Indiana to six games in the second round, their young core is developing and being surrounded by veterans, and John Wall is an awesome dancer.

Chicago got a much needed offensive boost in Pau Gasol, and they got Derrick Rose back from injury (even though I think he’ll never be the same, and, frankly, may even get injured again).

Toronto didn’t lose anybody, and they’re only getting better. Indiana will probably continue their mediocre play from the second-half of last season, and they lost Lance Stephenson.

Miami, many people think, will still be fine despite LeBron’s departure. They’ll be decent. But let’s remember, now; everyone thought the Cavs were still gonna be the eighth seed or better after LeBron left in 2010 … then they deteriorated from 61 wins to 19, the worst record in the league.

Not saying that’ll happen to the Heat exactly, but they may not be as fine as most analysts predict.

Charlotte was one of the better defensive teams in the league last year, and they picked up Noah Vonleh and Lance Stephenson.

Finally, that leaves us with one spot to go. Who will claim it? New York, Atlanta, Detroit, or your beloved Brooklyn Nets?

There are three main things the Nets will have to recover from if they’re going to make the playoffs.

First, Jarrett Jack will have to successfully replace Shaun Livingston, which I think he can do.

Second, other players will have to fill the shoes of free-agent Andray Blatche and a declining Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett. Perhaps Mason Plumlee and a few rookies can be those guys?

Third and lastly, Brook Lopez needs to stay healthy.

Losing Paul Pierce for nothing is big. However, if all of above-mentioned things happen, I believe the Brooklyn Nets can still make the postseason in 2015.

If.

Tags: Brooklyn Nets Eastern Conference Paul Pierce

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