Following a crushing second-round Playoff defeat to the Atlanta Hawks, Paul Pierce hinted at retirement this summer.
With $5.5 million owed to him next season, it’s unlikely The Truth will walk away from the NBA, but he could switch teams.
What to do … What to do?: Washington’s main issue is complacency. 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. Either way, the Wizards need a long-term solution at power forward to go with their electric backcourt of (John) Wall and (Bradley) Beal and the emerging Porter, who was a terrific 3-and-D man during the playoffs and looks ready to claim the small forward spot full time.
Coach Randy Wittman made it clear after his team’s six-game loss to the Hawks that he wants a stretch four going forward that would allow Washington to play small ball all season. The Wizards thrived with Pierce at the four and Porter at the three in their first-round rout of the Raptors, but Wittman didn’t use that lineup during the regular season because he wanted to save Pierce’s legs for the playoffs. Fans in D.C. dream of getting Kevin Durant to return home in 2016, but the Wizards shouldn’t be so starry-eyed. They shouldn’t wait for the summer of ’16, when the new TV deal kicks in and almost every team in the league will have cap space, increasing the number of competitors for any player, including Durant. (Especially Durant.)
They should attack now, and think big. Washington has $20 million in potential trade bait available. Nene’s contract expires in ’16, and Martell Webster and DeJuan Blair have team options for 2016-17 — in essence, making their contracts expirings for next season as well. So why not take a run at, say, Kevin Love? The Wizards have all their upcoming picks, including their ’15 first-rounder; if they could find a third-team to act as intermediary (Hinkie!!!), a sign-and-trade extravaganza including Nene, (Martell) Webster, (Kevin) Seraphin — likely to leave, anyway — and picks going in some combination to Cleveland and/or Philly could get things rolling.