|06.29.10 at 11:28 pm ET|
As ESPN’s Marc Stein first reported, Paul Pierce will opt out of the final year of his contract, which will make him a free agent on July 1. While Pierce is leaving $21.5 million on the table, he is setting himself up for a longer deal before a new collective bargaining agreement is in place following next season.
The move, while not unexpected, makes Danny Ainge’s life a little more difficult as he attempts to bring back the core of the Celtics team for another run. The Celtics still retain Bird rights on Pierce and Ray Allen, which allows them to go over to the cap to re-sign both of them.
That remains the best course of action for Ainge. Despite their status as free agents, Pierce and Allen are still tied to the Celtics cap in the form of cap holds at around $20 million each until they sign a new deal. The Celtics would have to renounce both players, as well as the remaining six free agents on the roster, in order to get significantly under the cap to pursue free agents.
There is a chance that a team like the Clippers, Nets or Knicks could make a run at Pierce if they fail to sign LeBron James.
The big question on new deals for Pierce, and for Allen, is the length. Ainge would prefer to tie everything back to Kevin Garnett’s contract, which has two years remaining, but he may be forced to go to three, or even four years in Pierce’s case.
Still left to be determined before the start of free agency is whether Doc Rivers will return to coach the team, which may also have an impact on whether Pierce and Allen want to return.
|06.29.10 at 11:55 am ET|
Lost in the LeBron James sweepstakes (well, at least lost on a national level) is that Paul Pierce has until midnight tomorrow (June 30) to decide whether to decline the option for the final year of his contract and walk away from $21.5 million.
Is he going to do it? Does a 33-year-old forward with about 125,000 miles on his NBA tires really think there is a team out there that is going to throw him, say, $75 million over five years?
“I do have doubts,” said Danny Ainge last week on WEEI when asked if he thought Pierce would return to finish out his contract. “I’m not certain of what Paul may do. I don’t know because he may be able to get a long-term contract somewhere else. It may be better than what we have [to offer].”
Not exactly the hard pitch for Pierce to stick around. There is growing sentiment that Ainge might not be inconsolable should Pierce choose to take his chances in free agency. Paying someone big money for what they have done as opposed to what they will do isn’t exactly Step One in the rebuilding handbook. The idea of keeping Pierce as a career Celtic is great in theory, but in the salary-cap era there simply isn’t a lot of wiggle room for sentimentality.
But back to Pierce himself. Does it make sense to take his bat and ball into the open market? A couple of questions he has to consider:
Does he care about his legacy?
OK, that’s a little extreme. He’s done enough to earn his place, no matter where he plays in 2010-11 and beyond. But Pierce has always been steadfast in his desire to be a member of the Celtics for his entire career. The truly great players in franchise history– Russell, Cousy, Hondo, Bird, Cowens, McHale — never played a significant NBA second in another uniform. Does that matter to Pierce? Or does he feel that his legacy is secure even he spends four years with the Clippers or (ugh) Knicks?
Does he think the Celtics are still legitimate title contenders?
Could be that Pierce takes a look at the landscape and sees an aging and oft-injured Kevin Garnett, a possibly departing Ray Allen, a retired Rasheed Wallace and Doc Rivers getting ready for his TNT closeup. That is glass is half empty to be sure, but not too far from reality. If Pierce doesn’t think there is another title chance left in Boston during his remaining basketball years, why not take the money and go somewhere else? Or it’s possible he could see how who goes where , take a little less dough, and be the No. 2 or 3 guy for a team that needs one more piece? How about 4 years and $48 million to play with Dwayne Wade and Carlos Boozer in Miami?
Is there a team that will give him a long-term deal?
If Pierce is simply looking for the biggest cash out, his best bet might be a team that struck out in the LeBron derby and are trying to placate a bitter fanbase. Could be the Knicks or Clippers, of course. Maybe a reunion with Tom Thibodeau? I don’t think the idea of Paul Pierce, in the autumn of his career, coming in as de facto savior would be a great lift to the spirits of a jilted hoops community. Pierce’s value around the NBA isn’t close to what it is for the Celtics. And I can’t believe that he’s going to get a maximum contract, particularly in a lousy economy with a collective bargaining agreement looming (and the owners smell blood — they will sit and wait for the players to give in. Nothing close to a middle ground this time. The days of huge contracts will be gone) just a year away. But you can never count out an owner or GM giving in to panic.
Is the smart move to work out an extension with the Celtics?
Makes too much sense not to happen, doesn’t it? Can’t Ainge and Jeff Schwartz (Pierce’s agent) find a number of years and dollars that work for both sides? How about three years and $42 million? Gives the Celtics some cap room over the next few years and Pierce keeps face with a solid extension. Pierce may not be the player he was a couple of years ago, but he’s still be decent value at that contract. And he gets one more payday before what will be a hugely restrictive CBA kicks in.
If I’m Danny that’s my best and final offer. Three years, $42 million. If Pierce doesn’t think that’s enough? You shake hands, wish him well, and get started on the rebuild. Remember, only so much room today for sentimentality.
|06.29.10 at 9:01 am ET|
As the Celtics await a decision from Doc Rivers on whether he will return to the sidelines next season, there has been relatively little chatter on potential replacements should he choose to step away.
One possibility is Vinny Del Negro, according to CBSSports.com. The former Bulls coach and Springfield, MA native is reportedly on the Celtics radar should Rivers leave:
“Still no word from Celtics coach Doc Rivers to some of his closest confidants as to whether he will be back on the Boston bench next season. Vinny Del Negro, who along with Dwane Casey is a finalist for the Clippers job, is on the Celtics’ short list of candidates to replace Rivers if he steps down to spend more time with his family.”
Del Negro coached the Bulls for two seasons before being fired in May. He accumulated an 82-82 regular season record and 4-8 in the postseason, including a seven-game first round series against the Celtics in 2009. The Bulls were eliminated by the Cavaliers in Game 5 of the first round this season.
Last Thursday Rivers said he was looking to make a decision this week and is still weighing the options between his personal and professional life.
‘It’s a tough one and it’s a serious one for me,’ Rivers said on Draft Night. ‘Either way. Let’s just wait and we’ll figure it out soon.’
|06.27.10 at 11:41 pm ET|
Former Celtic Ryan Gomes was traded from the Timberwolves to the Trail Blazers on Draft Night. But the Trail Blazers may release Gomes for financial reasons, according to the Oregonian, which would add him to the free agent market:
Team president Larry Miller said the Blazers will probably release newly acquired forward Ryan Gomes in order to avoid taking on the remaining three seasons of his contract.
The team has until Tuesday to make a decision, but Miller said he has already told Gomes’ agent not to fly him to Portland.
Gomes was drafted by the Celtics in 2005 and has remained a fan favorite in Boston since being sent to Minnesota as part of the Kevin Garnett deal. He has expanded his game to the perimeter since his departure, and shot 37 percent from 3-point range over the past two seasons.
Even though Gomes does not fill the Celtics resounding void down low, he could be a player to watch depending on how free agency shakes out. While there have been no reports that he is on the C’s radar, he is a quality player worth a look should he be added to the free agent market.
|06.27.10 at 11:04 pm ET|
The C’s are in need of a big man this summer after the future of their front court was left in question at the end of the season. It is unknown when Kendrick Perkins, who suffered a knee injury in Game 6 of the NBA finals, will be able to play again. Last week Danny Ainge told the Boston Herald Perkins may have suffered an ACL tear, and more will be known after his surgery. The retirement of Rasheed Wallace also leaves a void down low.
At seven feet tall, Miller’s size and veteran experience could be a fit on the Celtics. He is entering his 13th season with proven minutes behind him on the court. Miller appeared in all 82 regular season games for the Bulls last season and started in 37. He averaged 10.1 points and 5.7 rebounds as a starter.
The Celtics have their midlevel exception available to sign the 34-year-old Miller, who has the versatility to play the power forward and center positions. Several contenders are expected to pursue Miller, but sources say the chance to play for the defending Eastern Conference champions has significant appeal to him.
The two-time All-Star also has eight seasons of playoff experience. His most memorable postseason moment among Celtics fans came during the first round of the 2009 playoffs. Miller was fouled by Rajon Rondo late in Game 5 and missed a pair of potential game-tying free throws with two seconds left in overtime. The Celtics went on to win the game, and the hard foul between Miller and Rondo exemplified the intensity of the series.
|06.25.10 at 3:17 pm ET|
A day after the NBA draft, Sports Illustrated NBA insider Ian Thomsen talked to the Dale & Holley show to discuss what the Celtics picked up in the draft, what the future holds in store for the C’s and where LeBron James will end up next year.
‘The Celtics got a better version of Eddie House,’ Thomsen said about Avery Bradley, the Celtics’ first-round pick. ‘They got a guy who’s a terrific shooter; he’s got great range, but he’s a very good defender.’
‘The one thing he doesn’t do [is] he doesn’t drive the ball great. He’s a much better shooter than he is a driver. …They’re going to have to hope he can come off the bench and be the backup point guard they needed.’
Highlights of the interview are below. To listen to the interview in full, click on The Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
On the possibility of Paul Pierce signing a smaller contract to bring in a big name free agent:
You know, they renounce him and then they give up their Bird rights to him, so now when he signs a new contract, he gets none of the value of re-signing with his own team. It’s like he signed with another team. It’s a risky thing; I can’t remember the last time that happened. I’m sure it has, but would it happen?
I would say it won’t, because when you look at it now with these other teams trying to clear so much space, there’s more cap space out there than there are star players. There’s going to be a lot of money that goes unspent or it’s going to be spent badly because there’s nobody to sign. It’s one of those things you think about, it’s like a loophole kind of deal. It’s like when they drafted Larry Bird the year before they signed him. I just don’t see that happening.
On Avery Bradley:
The Celtics got a better version of Eddie House. They got a guy who’s a terrific shooter; he’s got great range, but he’s a very good defender. The one thing he doesn’t do [is] he doesn’t drive the ball great. He’s a much better shooter than he is a driver. And is he a true point guard? They’re going to have to hope he can come off the bench and be the backup point guard they needed. Read the rest of this entry »
|06.25.10 at 2:52 pm ET|
Celtics draft picks Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody were introduced to the media at a press conference at the Celtics training facility in Waltham Friday. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge indicated that Bradley will have arthroscopic surgery on his ankle that will knock him out of summer league action, although the guard is expected to be ready to return in August and participate in training camp.
‘Right now, I’m just looking to get back and get ready so I can start training camp,’ said Bradley, who will wear a zero on his Celtics jersey.
Harangody, who is going with No. 55, is ready to prove himself all over again. “I feel like I paid my dues in college,” he said. “I wasn’t good enough to get into the first round, but I feel like I just have to start all over again and just do the same thing as when I came to college because I wasn’t a big name then.”
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