After the Wizards suffered what was a crushing Game 6 loss to the Hawks, one that eliminated them from the second round of the playoffs, Paul Pierce said he was unsure if he’d play basketball in the future.
The emotional toll of it all was becoming too much for Pierce, who had just completed his 17th NBA season. And even though he has a player option on a deal to stay in Washington for one more year, retirement was clearly something that was looking like a very real possibility.
But now that Pierce has had time to reflect, it appears as though he’s ready to return next season.
From Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post:
Paul Pierce has until the end of June to decide whether he will exercise his $5.5 million player option and return for a second season with the Washington Wizards.
Pierce candidly revealed he wasn’t sure about his basketball future minutes after he heaved a last-gasp three-pointer to extend the Wizards’ season a tick of a second too late. He indicated retiring was a possibility, but a month later Pierce is set on playing next season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The question becomes, where?
Pierce has been a great fit in Washington, a veteran voice alongside budding stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal who can still produce in the game’s biggest moments. But evidently, returning home to play in Los Angeles and reuniting with Doc Rivers to make a run with the Clippers is something Pierce is considering.
Pierce would likely need to take less money to sign in L.A., unless a two-year deal that was fully guaranteed exceeded his potential Wizards salary for next season. But even though they play in the more challenging Western Conference, it’s easy to argue that the Clippers have championship potential with the core of their roster, and adding someone like Pierce to the mix could be the piece that pushes them over the edge.
When the Sixers selected Joel Embiid with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, it marked the second straight year that the team grabbed a player it knew would sit out his entire rookie season due to injury.
Philadelphia’s strategy worked out just fine with Nerlens Noel, who looked great last season after missing all of 2013. And, the fact that he was unavailable helped the Sixers bottom out to the point where they were able to land Embiid in the first place.
But drafting injured players is fairly risky business. The Sixers are seeing that now with Embiid, who suffered a setback with his foot injury that may force him to miss a second straight season.
The team is hoping to get confirmation one way or another in the next couple of weeks.
From Keith Pompey of Philly.com:
“We’re still waiting,” [Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil] said. “We have another three doctors to come see him. The nice thing about jobs like these – you can literally get the best experts in the world. All you have to do is call and they love to see us.”
He added that the franchise could get an answer about the 7-foot center’s future in “a couple of weeks.” …
“We’re trying to figure out with a 21-year-old how do you focus wholly on long-term health and wellness and make sure he’s OK,” O’Neil said. “So what we’re doing now is seeing experts, the best experts from around the world, to make sure we make the right decisions with him and his family and do the best.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Embiid’s updated status has any effect on the team’s plans in the June 25 NBA Draft. The Sixers have the third overall pick, and for weeks it was believed that D’Angelo Russell would be their choice, assuming Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor go one and two as expected.
But the 7’1″ Kristaps Porzingis has recently been slotted in as a realistic selection for Philadelphia, which makes you wonder if Embiid’s situation is internally feared to be a worst-case scenario.
The Lakers and Celtics each have two picks in the first round of the upcoming NBA Draft, but if the teams get their way, they’ll only be selecting one player apiece to add to their respective rosters.
L.A. has the second overall pick, along with the 27th. Boston, meanwhile, has picks at 16 and 28.
But because those late first round picks represent guaranteed salary commitments, both the Lakers and Celtics would rather trade them and look to add talent somewhere else.
From Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:
Lakers are also trying to move out of the 27 and Boston trying to move out of 28 too… no surprise on either – both covet capspace
The 27th overall pick will receive a guaranteed first year salary of $930,500, while the 28th overall pick is guaranteed $924,800.
Since both Boston and L.A. have picks early in the second round (at 33 and 34, respectively), and since there isn’t a huge gap there in terms of what may be available from a talent perspective, they would rather not tie up valuable cap space with players who may or may not be ready to provide an immediate contribution.
The interesting part about this is that teams (like the Celtics, especially) are constantly looking to accumulate draft picks, in order to have “assets” that they can package in theoretical trades in the future. But for teams looking to maximize available space under the salary cap, late first-rounders like these can sometimes be viewed as the opposite.