COMMENTARY | Now that the deal sending Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers seems to close to done, the focus surrounding the Boston Celtics is on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Sending Rivers away has all but assured that Danny Ainge is planning to reset the roster and enter a rebuilding phase, one that Pierce and Garnett will probably not be a part of.
Within the next few days, the Celtics will have to make a big decision regarding Pierce and his contract. He is scheduled to make $15 million next season, but the team holds the option to buy him out at a cost of $5 million. For a team not planning to contend, $15 million is a lot for a veteran player.
While he is not the player he once was, there is certainly a decent market for Pierce's services. Reports have suggested that the Cleveland Cavaliers have interest, and there are most likely several competitors who could use his scoring as a second or third option.
The only problem for competitors looking to land "The Truth" is that they most likely don't have many assets that they are willing and able to give up in a trade. Additionally, most competitors won't have the cap space to absorb Pierce's contract. If Pierce hopes to join a contender, it will probably have to be following a buy out.
If Pierce becomes a free agent following a buy out, the Oklahoma City Thunder need to make every effort to bring him to town.
With Russell Westbrook returning from injury, the Thunder appear to be one of the elite teams in the Western Conference entering next season. Over the past few seasons, one of their few weaknesses has been creating offense when Durant or Westbrook struggle. Of course, this problem was magnified when the team traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets.
Kevin Martin filled his role well, but he is not anywhere near the creator that Harden was. Martin will be a free agent this summer, and the Thunder will have to decide whether or not to bring him back. In many aspects, Pierce is a much better option.
Pierce would give the Thunder someone who can create offense for short stretches when Westbrook and Durant are off the floor, something the team desperately needs. Additionally, he will still space the floor with his shooting, which will continue to allow Westbrook and Durant to operate. While Pierce won't be a major difference maker defensively, he would be a huge improvement over Martin, who has been known as a defensive liability.
Additionally, Pierce would give the Thunder some lineup flexibility. With the ability to pay either small forward or shooting guard, Scott Brooks will be able to play small or big on any given night.
In order to join the Thunder, Pierce would probably have to take a pay cut. Oklahoma City doesn't have much financial flexibility, and Pierce would need to place winning a second championship above earning a big paycheck.
Seeing Paul Pierce in a different uniform is certainly a strange thought, as he has spent his entire 14 years in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. However, it now appears that there is a strong possibility that he will play next season with a new team, as the Celtics look to head in another direction.
For these reasons, the Oklahoma City Thunder need to pursue Paul Pierce. He could be the extra difference maker that could help bring this young group to their first title with his contributions on the court and in the locker room.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering the Celtics for 3 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports , and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
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