Paul Pierce has left the Nets to join the Washington Wizards, accepting a two-year deal worth $10.8 million, the full mid-level exception. He has a player option for the second year.
This was all set in motion by a string of events starting Friday afternoon. The Houston Rockets looked set to sign Chris Bosh, but he announced that he would return to the Miami Heat. That forced Houston to acquire former Rocket Trevor Ariza from the Wizards to be their new power forward. That left an opening in Washington for Pierce.
Nets General Manager Billy King said about a week ago that the Nets were not going to break the bank to bring Pierce back, which is interesting considering how much the Nets gave up to acquire Pierce in the blockbuster deal with Boston a year ago.
In the trade with the Celtics on Draft Night 2013, King acquired Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry for three first round draft picks (2014, 2016, and 2018), Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, and Keith Bogans.
A year later, it is clear that the Celtics are the clear winners of the trade as they received three first-round picks for essentially rental players. Pierce only played in Brooklyn one season. Terry was traded at the deadline in February after an abysmal season in Brooklyn, as he could not hit the three-pointer anymore and was awful on defense. Kevin Garnett had a tough year also, as he was rested a lot and still missed the month of March with back spasms that sapped his energy for the playoffs. KG is likely to return to Brooklyn, although the Nets probably wish he would just do them a favor and retire.
King bankrupted the future to acquire Pierce and Garnett, two first-ballot Hall of Famers in the hopes of winning an NBA title. Instead, the Nets won just 43 games and barely got by the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Miami Heat in the second round in just five games.
King was in discussions with the Los Angeles Clippers early in the free-agency period about a sign-and-trade that would have reunited Pierce with Head Coach Doc Rivers. The Clippers offered Jamal Crawford, and that was not offer to complete the trade, but wouldn’t anything from the Clippers have been better than nothing from Washington?
This has been a horrible offseason for the Nets. They had to deal with the battle with Head Coach Jason Kidd, which resulted in him going to the Milwaukee Bucks. They lost backup point guard Shaun Livingston to the Golden State Warriors, and now have lost their starting power forward Pierce. Backup center Andray Blatche and backup small forward Alan Anderson are unsigned and unlikely to return.
The only positive are the hiring of Lionel Hollins to replace Kidd and trading Marcus Thornton for Jarrett Jack in the a three-way trade that brought in Jack from Cleveland and sent Thornton to Boston. With Pierce gone, Jack could be the starting power forward.
The Nets have a lot of question marks, starting with the health of point guard Deron Williams, who underwent surgery on both ankles, and center Brook Lopez, getting over yet another foot surgery. The issue of what Garnett can give this team will also loom.
The Wizards are the far-more appealing option, as they have arguably the best point guard in the Eastern Conference in John Wall, along with shooting guard Brandon Beal, center Marcin Gortat, who recently signed a new long-term contract, and Nene.