Damn Marc Stein. I was planning to spend part of tonight digging into the possibility that Paul Pierce could “restructure” or “rework” his contract, but Stein beat me to it on TrueHoop.
And the lowdown is that “restructure” and “rework” are definitely the wrong words. The league’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from restructuring ongoing contracts unless the player’s team is under the cap—obviously not a possibility here.
That leaves just two possibilities, only one of which is meaningful. Per Stein:
1) The 2008 NBA Finals MVP can sign an extension at any time over the next two seasons that kicks in starting with 2011-12, but league rules say that the first-year salary in a new deal can only be reduced by a maximum of 10.5 percent from the $21.5 million Pierce is owed in 2010-11. That means the starting salary in an extension could only drop to $19.3 million.
2) Pierce could take the unlikely and rarely seen step of opting out of his contract after this season, leaving next season’s $21.5 million on the table and signing a long-term deal at a reduced rate.
Toss out possibility #1. It doesn’t help the Celtics enough to be worthwhile.
I’m on record of being skeptical that Pierce will use the second method Stein presents. That’s not a knock on Pierce. My man crush on The Truth is well-known in these parts. Athletes rarely decline player options that will pay them much more than they are worth on the open market, and Pierce could not get a $21 million deal on the open market in 2011 for a host of reasons. Players rarely do it, even if their team is miserable. The player’s union loves things like player-controlled options, and unions don’t like it when union members give those things up.
So I’m sticking to my prediction that Pierce exercises his option.
***UPDATE from Brian Robb***: Henry Abbott of TrueHoop passes along some updated information regarding how the C’s could restructure Pierce’s deal regarding option #1 from Marc Stein that Zach described above. Here is the update from the post:
My initial info from a cap expert on the first option has since been amended by another cap expert. More drastic reductions in salary are permissible in extensions, as seen recently when Washington’s Antawn Jamison went from $16.4 million to $9.9 million in the first year of his Wizards extension in 2008-09 … and when Pierce’s teammate Kevin Garnett went from $24.8 million in the final year of his last Minnesota contract to $16.4 million with Boston last season.
This comes as encourging news for Celtics fans out there, as the likelihood for Pierce reworking his deal look a whole lot better with this stipulation in play.
For a more discussion on Paul Pierce’s future, be sure to check out my post from earlier this week on The Truth’s potential options.