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Paul Pierce is Opting Out

 

Marc Stein of ESPN.com has the scoop that Paul Pierce has informed the Celtics that he will decline his 21.5 million dollar player option and become an unrestricted free agent. A couple notes from the piece:

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Pierce 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.

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.

The news should not come as a complete shock to Celtics fans in wake of the new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon next year, this year will likely be Paul’s last chance to score a big payday before NBA salary rules are potentially heavily restructured after next season.

Pierce’s agent Jeff Schwartz has a history of playing hardball with his clients (see Lamar Odom last offseason) so it’s likely he is looking to score a contract for his client in a wide open free agent market, where several teams may have plenty of left over cap room after the top of the free agent crop settles down.

As a Celtics fan, it’s not time to panic entirely right now about the future of Pierce with the Celtics. It’s still entirely possible that Pierce will be back, but the decision is primarily in the Celtics hands now. You would have to think The Truth will be looking for, at minimum, a 3 year deal. With that in mind, it’s important to remember two things:

1) The Celtics have bird rights on Pierce right now, meaning they can sign him for whatever amount they see fit

2) Pierce still has a cap hold in place, meaning him opting out frees up no cap room for the C’s right now. In order to clear Pierce’s cap hold, the C’s would have to renounce Pierce’s rights, something that likely will not happen barring Danny Ainge cleaning house.

For further reference on the unlikeliness of that scenario, be sure to check out Zach Lowe’s excellent explanation of that potential situation from Monday.

Some final thoughts on what this all means for Pierce and the Celtics on the way….

  • Perry

    Heck, we’ve been bantering back and fourth on this subject for more than a week. By now Danny should have some good ideas — if he reads this blog.

    …and so it begins

  • rob

    is just opting out to get a new contract with us? or trying to get on a different team

  • Cptn Bubbles

    This is getting worse than watching CNN. First, Perk’s injury is worse with an acl tear & now, before you can catch your breath, teams are gonna be throwing all kinds of cash at Paul. Next, it will be teams throwing mega cash at Ray. So we should have Rajon & KG back & then…..EGAD!

  • hillcrestwildcat

    Likely restructuring his contract this in and of itself is not a big deal. Might be a good thing actually.

  • Perry

    don’t sweat it

    ..Celts will keep bird rights on Pierce, Ray, and TA otherwise they won’t able to resign two or three as they would be under the cap, plus they lose the MLE

    …obviously

  • Perry

    @Cptn Bubbles

    Nothing is worse than watching CNN.

    Unless it’s MSNBC (MSLSD), which is akin to waterboarding.

  • Zain

    Asked recently to gauge the likelihood of re-signing Pierce, Celtics vice president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said last week on WEEI Radio in Boston: “I don’t know because he may be able to get a long-term contract somewhere else. It may be better than what we have [to offer].”

    Danny bluffing around? OR legitimate concern?

  • David

    If rights to Pierce were renounced, would that free up enough cap space to sign Dwayne Wade in his place??? D Wade would make a great Celtic…

  • Zain

    You have to renounce Pierce and Allen’s Bird’s rights I believe before you’re under the cap. Dwade ain’t comin here. Forget about that notion.

  • lakershater13

    One all-star worth giving up pierce, allen, and the mle? I dont think so. James, Bosh, Wade. They are not coming to boston.

  • http://. D-block

    We need 2 sign Pierce. If we dont, I dont see Ainge going 4 anybody that can take his place in free agency. He’s already sounding cheap about giving Pierce a contract which shouldnt have been a issue cuz it shouldve been resolved b4 the season ended. Wade,Bosh,Johnson,and Lebron are gonna be asking 4 some big contracts, so who ever they go 4, they better be ready 2 break there pockets. 1 thing is true we do need 2 get younger

  • NHBluesMan

    ideally, Pierce and Allen resign for 2 year deals and the Big 3 retire together, giving us HUGE cap space to work with… but thats the ideal, i don’t see it happening.

    I hope Pierce doesn’t run for the hills at the first sign of more money, i wanna see him retire as a Celtic, same with Ray.

    I REALLY hope these next couple years aren’t as bad as my gut is saying they might be

  • dslack

    I gotta say, I’m surprised. Pierce isn’t a max guy. It’s possible that some idiot team that has cleared cap-space and that strikes out on the actual max guys will (over)pay him as though he is a max guy. But I think that’s unlikely. I think Pierce won’t get more than $13M next year, which means he’s giving up $8.5M for next season. Is that really smart? He’s DEFINITELY not getting more than $19M from any other team, so if Danny pays Pierce more than that he’s only bidding against himself. But really, why would a team pay Pierce more than $16.5M, which is what it will cost to get LeBron? So it seems practically guaranteed that he’s giving up at least $5M next year.

    No All-Star who wants to win immediately will come to Boston. Rondo+KG+ Boozer isn’t going anywhere.

    I think a lot now hinges on (1) Whether Doc returns and (2) Whether another team offers Pierce more than $14M or $15M for more than 2 years. We’ll know more in a few.

  • dslack

    Also, IF Pierce leaves, Danny doesn’t need to try to sign a huge free agent immediately. It’s important to use cap-space wisely. Follow the Sam Presti plan. Don’t blow it on one mediocre (Amare, Boozer, JJohnson) guy. Build a real team with a real foundation. That would take a few years, but would be much smarter than spending the cap space on the wrong guy and tying up the cap for a few years.

  • complexity

    Wow. What could this team turn into next year. How many of you would just like to see the same starting five. Sometimes security is better. Oh well. Life is all about changes.

  • http://. D-block

    You cant go from making the nba finals 2 rebuilding. They need 2 spend money 4 talent. I know the top free agents are probably out of the question but its a big free agency year, there are players who are gettin overlooked cuz of the bigger names. They can get better but they need 2 spend money and not settle 4 players like Brad Miller! Thats a waste of money and time! With Rasheed retiring and Perkins out 4 a while, a big man is needed but Miller is not an option. Pierce is going 2 stay, but the big man position needs 2 be filled with someone who can defend and rebound

  • Steve

    We’ve been hoping Pierce would opt out to free up some room and now he did and everyone panics? He wants to retire a Celtic. Playing the end of his career anywhere else can only tarnish his career at this point. He’s closing in on Bird for #2 on scoring and has a chance with a contract extension to get there. Sure there’s always a “chance” someone will make an offer too good for us to match. But if they do then there’s really nothing we can do. Ainge will NOT mortgage the future of the team for any player. Not even Paul. Paul knows he has 3-4 years left at a top level at best. He’ll get 40-50 million to play them in Boston and cement his legacy in Springfield. Ray has said his first choice is to sign in Boston. Boston has no back up plan if they don’t sign him. So Ray will be back at about 9-11 million tops. Rondo is better and only gets 9,090,090 this year. Ray will get 2 years and maybe a team option on the 3rd and he should be happy with that. If he’s still able to play by then it will most likely be as a role player and he can’t expect All-Star $ for role player performance. The Big 3 have all shown an ability to put aside their egos for the good of the team. Pierce and Allen will continue to do so is my bet. Danny will find some new pieces to plug the holes and we’ll be deep in the playoffs yet again. Have no fear fans. Danny’s got this.

  • Jay P

    @dblock

    Read Zachs post on the cap situation, they dont have money to spend.

  • K.J. Lee

    @dslack,

    ‘It’s possible that some idiot team that has cleared cap-space and that strikes out on the actual max guys will (over)pay him as though he is a max guy.’

    This is our worst nightmare.

    At present, there are teams with 11 maximum wage slots chasing after 9 top tier unrestricted free agents, including Pierce. New York Knicks might decide to offer the maximum wage, as they are poised to lose the Le Bron-Wade-Bosh sweepstakes. In addition, Nowitzki is re-signing with the Mavericks, which brings the number of top tier unrestricted free agents to 8.

    Due to the over-36 rule, the maximum package he could sign with another team is 83 million. Now, should Ainge re-sign him for that figure over four years? The answer is no, as it would set us back for near half a decade, if not more. If any team offers a package anywhere close to 60 million, Pierce is good as gone.

  • Steve

    D-Block, how much would you like them to spend when they are over the cap and can only offer veteran minimum contracts and the mid-level? You aren’t drawing anything near a top player for $6 million. You can get a solid supporting guy but that’s about it. You could divide it up like Ainge did for House and Posey a couple years back. But the C’s need a solid big that can start the season in place of Perk and a bunch of role players. PG is looking set. SG is looking good if Ray’s back. That leaves us needing Pierce’s back up and a couple bigs. Hopefully Sheed’s contract can bring one and the mid-level can get the rest. After that it’s guys that are willing to play for the minimum amount you can sign them for. They will NOT be very good and won’t see much action in the post season.

  • Steve

    Don’t expect Pierce to take $ over happiness. He will NOT go to a rebuilding team that struck out just to get a quick payday. He is at the point where he is just playing for his legacy. He wants rings not $ and the NY Knicks and the NJ Nyets aren’t going to offer rings in the next 2 years. Dirk is staying in Dallas and Paul is staying in Boston. He just wanted to lock in a longer deal to help himself and the team at the same time. It’s been the plan for weeks and now it’s started.

  • rob

    i agree, i think this is paul setting up for the last years of his career, and its smart, if i were him sitting with his agent and they look at options, he could get totally screwed. if he didnt opt out and then in two weeks, Doc retires and ray allen doesnt sign back and danny doesnt bring anyone else in, then he is back in the same position he was for the majority of his career. other the other hand he can opt out, wait to see who the coach is, make sure the team is re-loaded for another run and then sign back, then if it doesnt happen, he can go team up with lebron or dwade and try to get title number 2 elsewhere to cement his legacy

  • Jay P

    I agree Steve, I don’t understand why people are so shocked by this.

    Honestly, in either situation, his best option is the opt out.

    New CBA after next year may be far more restrictive, he wont get the same kinda contract he can get now.

    Where he wants money, or legacy. Either way he should opt out, if its for the money, he’s better off signing for 3-4 years at a better guaranteed contract, while teams have money to spend, then try FA next year in a what looks to be extremely restricted CBA. If it’s for the legacy, he’ll sign a team friendly deal for 2-3 years and retire in Boston.

    Either way, the opt out is the way to go.

  • K.J. Lee

    @Steve,

    ‘Don’t expect Pierce to take $ over happiness. He will NOT go to a rebuilding team that struck out just to get a quick payday. He is at the point where he is just playing for his legacy. He wants rings not $ and the NY Knicks and the NJ Nyets aren’t going to offer rings in the next 2 years.’

    Point noted.

    But what if the final offer from us is significantly less than that of the rebuilding team? For example, which package would Pierce select if the New York Knicks were to offer 60 million over three years and if we were to offer 40 million over two years?

    In all likelihood, Pierce would choose the package from the New York Knicks.

    Frankly, I just could not see Ainge offering any package of more than two years to Pierce (and Ray Allen). Otherwise, it would impede the rebuilding process regarding truly top tier free agents once Garnett’s mega deal expires.

  • lakershater13

    I want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Wish we had an idea on what his is actually going to happen. We will see.

  • K.J. Lee

    @ lakershater13,

    I reckon that at the minimum, Pierce would be requesting a package of at least 50 million over three years. Otherwise, why would Pierce opt out of a contract that would pay him 21 million next season? On our side, I doubt that Ainge would offer anything more than 40 million over two years.

    This may turn out to be a replay of the James Posey saga, but with much higher stakes.

  • http://. D-block

    Steve, I understand what your saying but if Pierce doesnt sign, they can afford 2 get other potential free agents.Im not talkin about Wade,Lebron or Bosh cuz we know most likely there going elsewhere. There are a variety of people 2 pick from.We can get somebody worthy

  • http://espn.com travis zen

    Re-sign Ray for a 2-yr $20M extension..try to get Josh Childress from the Euroleague..

  • Perry

    @dslack

    I gotta say that I’m surprised he left $21m on the table because you’re right; despite all the liquidity out there it’s a misnomer to assume some third rate franchise (Clips, Nets) will offer him max money when he is clearly on the back nine of his career. No. I maintain this move was designed to have a cause and effect.

    1-Test the market before the impending lock out because you can.
    2-Forfiet the big payday in favor of long term security at today’s market prices.
    3-Restructure your contract knowing that your employer owns bird rights and is not likely to turn you loose because of limited dollars with regards to cap space if you’re salary comes off the books.

    This is hardball man, and Pierce can afford to do it.

    You are absolutely right that he will lose a tidy sum, but in the end gain that one more year he might not have able to get at next year’s going rate while being a year older. Although I heard some moron on ESPN say some of these guys will play into their 40s. If that’s the case Larry Holmes and George Forman might be doing halftime shows.

    @K.J. Lee

    Much to our chagrin the 4 years is precisely why he opted out. Danny will likely have to assume that final year. But Pierce has always been a good egg, and thus far he’s been a Celtic through and through. I would think a 4 year deal between $52m-55 would suffice because he’s not going to a team that is rebuilding. The only way I see him wearing another uniform is in LA for the Clips, but even their not stupid enough to pay him $60m or more over 4 years. Not to beat a dead horse, but there is always the sign and trade.

    @Jay P

    You summed it up best.

    …money or legacy

    If he truly will sit at the alter of Red the choice is obvious.
    .

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    pierce would have been stupid not to opt out and go for a final big contract. with this market of available cap space, i think he will find the 4year big money deal he wants. and its not just cash, there are teams with cap space and solid talent.

    as a fan, losing pierce would mean starting from scratch. but i think he will definitely not be worth the big money beyond next year. no way i would do a 4 year deal, and 3 years only if the money was right. i would try and give bigger cash over 2 years. crunchtime danny…..whats it going to be?

    hate to say it, but why wouldn’t the guy go to the clips. they have a solid supporting cast, and he could get a chance to bring glory in his hometown. not usually an attractive destination for free agents so he can probably could score big deal he wants.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @perry: agree paul is holding all the cards on this and can’t lose. of course eh will play hardball. but i do think someone could very well offer him 4 years 50+M. i don’t think he will be worth it, but the market is the way it is this year

  • http://celticshub.com Morey

    Let him walk, Pierce is a good player in the NBA, above average at best, he turns the ball over too much, in-consistant, and not the goto guy he was a while back. The upcoming year will be much worse for him. This is great news for all Celtic fans because it now gives us an opportunity now. There are a lot of golden opportunities. We have a great core, we just need 1 or 2 great players to come aboard and we are there. We really need a goto guy now, a great SF or SG or both will do just fine…

  • me

    lebron will now become a C
    pg:rondo
    sg:tony allen
    sf:lebron
    pf:garnet
    c:perkins
    and nate will stay

  • pj

    not matter how we like pierce or allen two years should be the max.Garnett is not getting better.Its time to start over let pierce and alllen go lets go young now rather than latter,and see if we can trade garnett.We are fooling ourselves if this same team can go as far next year,and we do not need to handcuff the team with long term deals for old players.

  • Jeremy

    If he becomes a free agent, and signs with the Celtics, doesn’t that make him eligible for a no trade clause?

  • dslack

    @me:
    Obviously fantasy, but anyway Celtics would have to renounce Tony and Nate in order to offer LeBron the max.

  • Jay P

    If any team pays him 60 million, that team is doomed to failure. There’s no chance in hell he’s worth 20 mil a year, not even close.

    I suspect him to sign in the 3 years 40 million range. Ainge wont be happy cause he’d rather give 2 years, Paul wont be happy cause he’d rather get 4, but I can see both sides conceding there to keep him in Boston.

  • Sweeney

    The TRUTH is that he is not a MAX Player. I would be pissed if Ainge gave him max money. He has a lot of basketball on those legs and 15$ is the ballpark figure. I honestly think that is too much in year 3 and 4 of a contract.

    As far as talk of other free agents…well this year it is either you got Game or you got nada. After LBJ and Wade there is considerable drop-off to the next FA, Bosh. After that, it even drops further…That next tier is like 6 or 7 guys and none of them are MAX caliber players. A team that does that is hurting themselves in the long run. So to think that you can get two players if PP walks is nuts. Yes, you can get two players but role players. A player to come off the bench from 6 – 9.

    What is really interesting is that this summit that happened can only hurt the NBA. IF we get a trio of these players together and they don’t win they will be ridiculed. If they are to win they will be made fun of because they couldn’t do it with their original team. The best destination for LBJ is the one that is a darkhorse….Dallas. Him and Dirk would be a perfect fit.

  • Sauce

    Even though we have just lost the finals and peirce isn’t as good but a lil shot as he used to be this isn’t exactly making me feel warm at the money, I can’t imagine missing those step backs js and clutch moments of his in green

  • Sophomore

    Best news I’ve heard in a long time? It’s going to be very hard for any team to land both Bosh and LBJ. At least, Bosh is going to have to turn down a lot of money.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/dailydime/_/page/dime-freeagency-100629/cap-room-summary

    Look at Larry Coon’s lead article, about the number of max contracts each team can offer. He obviously can’t consider creative sign-and-trades, but when you’re talking about trying to build a championship team around max contract players, that’s hard to work.

  • mike

    for all the talk pp said of joining the other celtic legends in the finals, i doubt he goes elsewhere…if he’s a company man he takes a 2 year deal (ray too) and the big 3′s deals expire at the same time, they all retire as celtics, and DA has the room to rebuild around rondo, perk, bradley and next 2 years #1 plus 2 pieces at the MLE

  • Smell That? Boston.
  • JK

    DON’T RE-SIGN RAY ALLEN – He is done. I can shoot 0 for 11. I would also let Pierce go too and use the money for some younger talent to put around Rondo. Both Pierce and Allen played like crap in the finals.

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