The Clippers last hope of upgrading their small forward position is gone with the wind. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, free agent Paul Pierce has agreed to a two-year deal with the Washington Wizards.
Paul Pierce is on the verge of joining the Washington Wizards in a free-agent deal, ESPN has learned
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 13, 2014
After losing Trevor Ariza to the Houston Rockets, Washington had a huge hole to fill at small forward. With Paul Pierce, by way of the mid-level exception, they’ve found themselves a veteran small forward on the last year of his contract who can easily plug into a drive-and-kick offense built around John Wall.
Traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a mega-deal alongside Kevin Garnett, Pierce expected to contend for a championship in the last few years of his career, but injuries and a lack of talent–Deron Williams decline, Kevin Garnett decline–derailed that objective.
The dream for Paul Pierce to reunite with his former head coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles was real. LA needed an upgrade at small forward and Pierce was an option amongst the likes of LeBron James, Luol Deng, and Trevor Ariza. But each of the forwards out priced themselves from the Clippers reach, having to either accept the mid-level exception (~$5 million) or partake in a sign-and-trade.
Neither option seemed feasible, but the Clippers dug themselves a deeper hole once they used the entire mid-level exception on Cavaliers free agent Spencer Hawes.
Then came the talks of a sign-and-trade with the Nets, with Los Angeles letting Brooklyn have their pick of Reggie Bullock, Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley, and Jamal Crawford. Instead, Billy King, the Nets general manager, gave the Clippers an ultimatum: It’s J.J. Redick/1st-round pick for Pierce or nothing.
As we see, the Clippers denied King’s offer.
Now, after mulling over his options in free agency, Pierce is back with a middle of the pack Eastern Conference team. Last season, splitting time between small forward and power forward, Pierce averaged 13.5 points per game–the lowest scoring output of his career. What didn’t dip much was his three-point percentage (37%) and the Wizards are betting that continues alongside John Wall.
Paul Pierce will be 37 in October.