Throughout the years Paul Pierce has done nothing but step on the throat of the New York Knicks and their fans. It's always been assumed that the ten time NBA All-Star would retire with the Boston Celtics and watch his number 34 raised to the rafters. However, now rumors have began to circle that the Celtics are about to buy Pierce out of the final season of his contract. Could he be an option to sign that much needed second scoring option for the Knicks and would New York accept him in orange and blue?
Paul Pierce was drafted by the Boston Celtics 10th overall in the 1998 NBA Draft out of Kansas. He's played for Boson his entire career. He was named to the 1999 NBA All-Rookie First Team, a three time All-NBA Third Team player (2002-03, 2008), an All-NBA Second Team player in 2009, the 2010 NBA Three-Point Shootout champion, a 2008 NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP.
He's primarily been a small forward his whole career but played shooting guard this year for an injury ravaged Celtics team. The 6'7", 235 pound superstar has scored 24021 points, recorded 668 blocks, 1583 steals, 4305 assists, 6651 rebounds on 44.7 percent from the field over a 15 year career. However, it sounds like the 35 year old will soon be looking for a new place to play for the first time since joining the NBA.
Chicago Bulls Rumors reports via their Twitter page an ESPN Insider rumor of the teams to express interest in Pierce.
Rumor: Bulls, Clippers, Lakers, Thunder, Rockets, and Knicks have expressed interest in Boston Celtics Paul Pierce. (Source: ESPN Insider)— Chicago Bulls Rumors (@chicagobullsbot) May 29, 2013
Normally the thought of Pierce joining the Knicks would be thought of as plain crazy. I mean, how many times have Knicks fans wanted to attack Pierce for killing the Knicks? Honestly, he's had some of the best performances seen in Madison Square Garden over the last 15 seasons and they've all been at the Knicks expense and heart-wrenching to watch.
The question would be, would he fit the current Knicks roster? First of all you have to realize Pierce can play shooting guard and small forward. The Knicks tend to like to play small ball under Mike Woodson. That means a natural small forward in Carmelo Anthony is playing power forward. It also mean a natural shooting guard in Iman Shumpert is finding time as a small forward.
If the Knicks were to bring Pierce in they could keep Anthony at power forward and use Shumpert as a shooting guard where he could help Raymond Felton protect the perimeter. They could even help Pierce feel more comfortable by returning him to his original position of small forward.
Pierce would not only add toughness that New York needs but also give them the secondary scorer the Knicks need badly. He is also a tough defender and someone use to playing for a big market. Obviously he has a championship pedigree that could prove to be priceless for the Knicks moving forward.
Imagine a starting lineup of Felton at point guard, Shumpert at shooting guard, Pierce at small forward, Anthony at power forward and Tyson Chandler at center along with J.R. Smith and Amare Stoudemire coming off the bench? Wouldn't that team make you feel more confident heading into next season where you know the Indiana Pacers will get Danny Granger and the Chicago Bulls will get Derrick Rose back?
It would certainly be a good idea to take a weapon off of one of your biggest rivals and make it your own. Signing Pierce would also give him the chance to play Boston quite a bit and who them exactly what they gave up. Surely Pierce's friend Rasheed Wallace would recommend playing under Mike Woodson on the Knicks to Pierce this off-season.
Ironically, the transition of Pierce playing for New York instead of Boston would likely prove to be harder for the fans than Pierce or the organization. The markets are both massive and very close in geographic positioning so as far as that goes it wouldn't be a big change for Pierce. He's already use to calling The Garden his home. He'd just be calling Madison Square Garden home instead of the Boston Garden.
Instead it would be the fans who would need to come around to the fact that it's okay to cheer a man they've been taught to hate for so long. However, if history shows us anything it's that fans can accept former rivals fairly quickly once they start helping their team.
Pierce is scheduled to make $15,333,334 next season. His buy out is rumored to be for somewhere around $5,000,000. That would mean a team could sign him and attempt to offer Pierce less than he's worth knowing he's being compensated by Boston.
Now, while Pierce is getting older and is a superstar in decline he may not come cheap. While he definitely won't command a max contract this off-season he could very well require more than the $3.1 million mid-level exception the Knicks have at their disposal. However, making an $8,100,000 combined salary between Boston and New York isn't a bad haul for a 35 year old. If the Knicks can either make a roster move or convince Pierce to accept their mid-level exception he could be the secondary scoring weapon New York is looking for.