Doc Rivers on Paul Pierce: ‘When he retires, he’s got to retire as a Celtic’
|09.07.16 at 11:27 am ET|
Paul Pierce has not yet solidified his plans for the upcoming season, but if retirement is that decision, Pierce’s most recent (and most familiar) coach is encouraging him to do so as a member of the Celtics.
At Tuesday’s annual ABCD Hoops Dream fundraiser at TD Garden, Clippers coach Doc Rivers spoke to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg about the future of arguably the most prized player to wear green since the turn of the millennium, and he said Pierce should sign a one-day contract with the Celtics when he decides to hang up his sneakers.
“I think it’s important. I think we have to do that. And I think we will,” Rivers said. “Danny [Ainge] and [assistant GM] Mike [Zarren], we’ve already talked. The day he retires, he’s going to retire a Celtic. He has to. Paul’s a Celtic. So when he retires, he’s got to retire as a Celtic. I don’t think anyone disagrees with me.”
Should he return, Pierce will be playing in his 19th NBA season, 15 of which were with the Celtics. Last season with the Clippers was an underwhelming one, as the 38-year-old averaged just 6.1 points over 18.1 minutes per game.
“Paul didn’t have the best year last year. I don’t think he wants to go out that way. So I think that’s why he’s working to try to come back,” Rivers said. “But he still may change his mind next week. So we just have to wait. I told him if I see him at training camp, I’m assuming he’s playing.”
Rivers, who coached the Celtics from 2004 until 2013, when he left for the Clippers, said Pierce could still play at a high level should he come back.
“If I don’t think they can play, then I tell them that. But I think Paul can play,” Rivers said. “I don’t know how much he’ll play, but he can play. I’ve always thought it’s easy for someone else to tell you to retire; I think that’s something that the player has to come to by himself.”
In his frequent discussions with Pierce this offseason, Rivers said he’s heard different things about Pierce’s plan for 2016-17.
“Depends on the day I talk to him. Paul has had the summer, he’s gone back and forth,” Rivers said. “I think he has a right to do that. I really do.”
Rivers said he plans to speak with Pierce later this week but is not expecting a definitive answer.
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