Paul Pierce to the Clippers? It all comes down to The Truth


Mar 16, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) celebrates in the final seconds of the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce finishing his career with the Los Angeles Clippers creates several opportunities for both parties. And with this potential deal comes a key question — how important are they to each other?

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On one side, how much does Pierce stand to gain from joining the Clippers? He’s already achieved more in his career than most players can dream of, and with his comments about whether or not he even wants to return next season, the Clippers may not actually be worth too much in the eyes of Pierce. Then again, for the Clippers, Pierce is an asset as both a skill based player and a vocal leader (who knows how to win a championship).

The Clippers desperately need to improve their bench, as their second unit finished just 23rd in points per game this season. And when you look past Jamal Crawford’s 15.8 points per game, the next best option is Austin rivers. Who, despite his playoff heroics and 25 point game against the Houston Rockets, is by no means capable of anchoring a second unit that are good enough to make a threatening run towards a title.

If the Clippers are able to bring in Paul Pierce, though, they’ll have a player who can take some of the load away from Crawford and Rivers.

And give L.A.’s bench the chance to actually maintain a lead.

May 8, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) moves the ball ahead of Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second half in game three of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The main downfall of both Rivers and Crawford — besides the fact that neither are top defenders — is that they lack efficiency. They both shot less than 43 percent from the floor this season and neither made more than 33 percent of their three point attempts.

Paul Pierce, on the other hand, still has the gentle stroke and never ending clutch gene to take over when a game is on the line.

He made at least 41 percent of his shots from between 10 feet out and the three point line this season, including 38.9 percent from behind the arc.

He’s used that efficiency with the way he thrives in late game situations to make more than his fare share of big plays, which he showed again in this year’s playoffs.

In the Eastern Conference semi finals against the Atlanta Hawks, Pierce buried the game winning shot over multiple defenders in game three to take a 2-1 series lead. And yet again, in game six, The Truth was just a few tenths of a second away from sending the game to overtime and saving his Washington Wizards with a three pointer at the buzzer.

It was waved off for being too late, but as he flew off the court after hitting the fading jumper over two defenders, he proved he can still make shots when they matter (even if this one was a fraction of a second too late).

Because that’s just what Paul Piece does.

The Clippers need someone like that. Not just because Pierce gives them another wing player, and even a stretch four to play instead of Glen Davis in smaller lineups with Blake Griffin at center, but because he can take the pressure of Chris Paul.

With Pierce, the Clippers won’t need to put all the pressure on CP3 every time they need a basket with the clock winding down. They’ll have another option to keep opponents guessing, rather than enduring defenses who constantly smother Paul.

Combine all that with his presence as a man who actually knows what it takes to win a championship, and it’s clear that Paul Pierce can offer a great deal to the Clippers (you can read my full column on his value here).

But just how much can they offer him in return?

It’s obvious they need everything that The Truth has to offer, and the weakness of their bench only heightens those needs as they still rely on the star power of their All-NBA trio. So, what can Pierce gain from one final ride into the sunset with the Clippers?

May 5, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) reacts near the end of the game against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half in game two of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Wizards 106-90. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After the Washington Wizards were eliminated from this year’s playoffs, Paul Pierce revealed just how challenging it is to take such tough losses. More importantly, he raised the issue of whether he wants to return at all next season (via Kurt Helin of NBCSports):

"“Truthfully, what was going through my mind is, I don’t have too much of these efforts left, if any. These rides throughout the NBA season, throughout the playoffs, are very emotional. They take a lot out of not only your body, but your mind, your spirit…. I don’t even know if I’m going to play basketball anymore.”"

When it comes to money, the contract Pierce receives at this stage of his career isn’t too important. If he opts out of his deal with the Wizards, the Clippers can offer him the tax player’s exception for $3.7 million, with the cheapest possible offer being the veteran’s minimum of just under $1.5 million. Of course, he wants to feel valued, but seeing as he’s made $184 million during his NBA career, the primary focus for Pierce is to have one last, genuine shot at a title.

Although, the Clippers can offer a little more.

Los Angeles is not only the place where Pierce grew up, but it’s now home to his championship winning head coach that he played for with the Boston Celtics — Doc Rivers.

They were together for nine years and won a title together in the 2007-08 season. Alongside Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce was part of a big four that will always have a strong connection to each other and the city of Boston. And now that they’ve all parted ways, Pierce has the opportunity to rejoin his coach for the best storybook ending to his career that’s possible.

Which, according to’s David Aldridge, is what a lot of sources around the league think could happen:

"“The Wizards could stand pat if Pierce decides to return to D.C. next season rather than opt out of his deal, but many around the league believe Pierce will do just that and finish his career back home in Los Angeles with the Clippers.”"

Apr 26, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) gestures to the crowd from the bench against the Toronto Raptors in the third quarter in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 125-94, and won the series 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

So, do these connections to Los Angeles and Doc Rivers give the Clippers the more enticing side of the offer? Or, is Pierce still the one with the better hand, when you look at everything he offers as a player and a leader?

Considering the Clippers’ desperate need of depth, it’s far easier to agree with the latter.

And they’d be wise to entice Paul Pierce away from Washington. Simply because the mental and skill based attributes he has (for a potentially very small price) are far too valuable to miss out on.

Yet the real power in this potential deal belongs to Pierce.

He’s already a 10-time All-Star, the 19th highest scorer in league history, an NBA champion, a Finals MVP, and an easy selection to make the Hall of Fame.

Does he need anything else? That much is down to him. But if he decides that he has something left to give in his career, the best place for him to do so is L.A.