Paul Pierce coming to Wizards on 2-year deal, source says
- Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) defends as Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) takes a three-point shot in the second half of Game 4 of their second-round NBA playoff basketball game at the Barclays Center, Monday, May 12, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Paul Pierce turns 37 in October and isn't quite the offensive force he was when he was leading the Boston Celtics to the championship seven years ago.
The old man showed last year in Brooklyn that he still knows how to knock down a clutch shot and grind out a playoff series victory, which made the up-and-coming Washington Wizards eager to add the man known as "The Truth."
Pierce and the Wizards agreed to terms on a two-year deal on Saturday night, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press. The deal 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. The person requested anonymity because the Wizards have not officially announced the signing.
"Welcome the truth paulpierce34 to DC...#wizkids!!" Wizards point guard John Wall tweeted.
After spending the first 15 seasons of his career in Boston, Pierce is on the move for the second straight summer in a deal first reported by ESPN, and the Wizards couldn't be happier.
Wall and Bradley Beal have formed one of the most exciting young backcourts in the league, and they helped the surprising Wizards to their first playoff series victory since 2005. Looking to build on that momentum, the Wizards have already brought back coach Randy Wittman, signed center Marcin Gortat to a five-year, $60 million and brought back veteran point guard Andre Miller.
One player it appears they weren't able to retain is swingman Trevor Ariza, who agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with the Houston Rockets, according to several reports, including USA Today.
"I want to thank WashWizards (owner) TedLeonsis ... for two great years," Ariza tweeted. "I will (always) be grateful for you guys. Much love... To my lil bros John_Wall and RealDealBeal23 stay on that grind love y'all boys. #wizkids #respect."
It didn't take long for the Wizards to rebound. Now those "Wiz kids" have another big brother to help show them how to take the next step.
Pierce averaged a career-low 13.5 points last season in his first year with the Nets. But he is a 10-time All-Star who has gained a reputation as one of the best big-moment players in the league.
Pierce doesn't have a game that relies on extreme athleticism or quickness. It's predicated more on instincts and an ability to initiate contact to create space to get off that trademark high-arching jump shot, which should allow him to remain effective longer than other players who lose some of the juice in their legs as they get older.
"I would like welcome Paul Pierce to The Wizards family. We're going to have a great run," Gortat tweeted. "It's going to be an honor to play with such an amazing player."
It also further underlines the major disappointment in Brooklyn.
The Nets gave three first-round draft picks to the Celtics last summer to bring Pierce and Kevin Garnett in and make a run at a championship. But a team that cost owner Mikhail Prokhorov about $190 million after luxury tax payments got off to a horrid start to the season, beat the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs and then were dismissed in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Miami Heat.
Coach Jason Kidd lost a power struggle with Nets management and wound up in Milwaukee and now Pierce is gone as well.
AP Basketball Writer