|Paul Pierce: ‘Of course’ I still want to retire a Celtic||01.21.12 at 12:59 am ET|
This isn’t the first time Celtics captain Paul Pierce‘s name has emerged in trade discussion. Prior to the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007, rumors consistently swirled that team president Danny Ainge would deal his star and enter full-blown rebuild mode. Flash forward five years, same story.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been down that road,” said Pierce, addressing the issue for the first time after the Celtics suffered their sixth loss in seven games, 79-71 at home to the Suns, “but I don’t think about it actually.”
In the midst of a 5-9 start and the first real signs that this might truly be the end of another Big Three era in Boston, Yahoo! Sports reported earlier this week that several contending teams made inquiries about Pierce’s potential availability before the March 15 trade deadline. Then CBSSports.com reported Friday that Ainge may be willing to wait 10 or more games before deciding to deal one of his three stars.
“It’s just obvious,” Ainge told WEEI’s Big Show on Thursday. “Of course if we get the opportunity to make a trade that will help our team, we’ll do it. I guess I was stating obvious answers and it became like a really big story. We’ve all known there’s a window for this group, so we’re constantly evaluating that and been evaluating it for the last couple of years. I don’t have anything on the books. I don’t have have anything imminent. There’s nothing out there that I’m actively doing. I’m being patient with this group of guys.”
As Pierce said, this isn’t his first rodeo. He’s seen teammates from Antoine Walker to Kendrick Perkins come and go. “I understand,” he said. “What the Celtics have done for me in my career, I’m more than happy. They’ve kept me this long, and I’ve been able to play in a lot of good situations. You’ve got to understand the business.”
For the time being, Pierce will continue to do what he’s done for 13 seasons: Lead the Celtics on the court. That’s a tall task this season, as the C’s are off to their worst start in the Big Three era and Pierce is averaging career lows of 14.9 points per game and 38.7 percent shooting through the first 10 games.
“We’d like to be a lot better, but it is what it is,” said Pierce. “We’ve got to keep going back to the drawing board and get back to work, lace them up and keep preparing. This is a group that’s not going to lose any confidence, that’s not going to put our heads down because things have been struggling. This is a good opportunity for us to show what we’re made of through the adversity.”
So, do the trade rumors fuel Pierce’s fire during that adversity? “What makes me want to play well is our record — that more than anything,” he added. “I don’t really read the papers. I don’t really buy into anything that’s been said. I’m just more concerned about this group as far as in the locker room and with my teammates.”
In the past, Pierce has expressed his desire to retire as a member of the organization that took him with the 10th pick in the 1998 NBA draft. There’s added motivation, considering he trails Larry Bird by 220 points for second on the team’s all-time scoring list. Coincidentally, he’ll be approaching that around Ainge’s 10-game window.
Does Pierce still want to finish his career in Boston? “Of course I feel that way. I mean,” he said, pausing, “yeah.”
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