Need more NBA off-season drama? Well here you go. As if the free agent class wasn’t strong enough, you can now add our very own Paul Pierce to the mix. The Truth officially opted out of his $21.5 million salary to become a restricted free agent according to ESPN:
Pierce’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, told ESPN.com that the All-Star forward has notified the Boston Celtics that he will opt out of the final year of his contract before Wednesday’s deadline to do so, which will make Pierce an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
“Pierce is opting out” said Schwartz in a text message to ESPN.com.
By opting out, Pierce will forfeit next season’s $21.5 million salary but becomes eligible to sign a new four-year deal with the Celtics worth a maximum of $96 million and can receive four-year offers from other teams worth a maximum $93 million.
It is unlikely Pierce would receive a contract longer than four years, because a fifth season would begin when Pierce was 37 and — under the league’s over-36 rule — would have costly salary cap implications for any team signing him.
I will admit this comes as somewhat of a surprise to me. I did not think Pierce would leave over $21 million on the table at this point in his career. However, it does make sense if he can get the four-year deal mentioned. Deep down I want to believe Pierce still ends up in Celtics green next year. He has made it know he would prefer to stay in Boston where he wants to retire a Celtic. Here’s what scares me. Teams that are trying to get their hands on guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, etc. will be desperate if those players do not fall into their laps like planned.
Will they then offer a player like Pierce a little more than expected because he will simply be the best available. Teams make moves just to make moves all the time and we could lose Pierce to such a scenario. We knew this would happen sooner or later. Pierce has been more than loyal to Boston for years and for his career-sake he deserves to explore options. He needs to remember one thing. L.A. is L.A. whether your with the Clippers or those other guys. Don’t even think about it Paul!