Paul Pierce on players switching teams in free agency: ‘It’s a great thing for our league’

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Paul Pierce played 15 seasons for the Celtics, and put up numbers while there that have him among the storied franchise’s leaders in many statistical categories.

In a perfect world, Pierce would have liked to retire in Boston. But that’s not how today’s NBA typically works.

Thanks to the organizational decision to launch a rebuilding process perhaps a year or two earlier than was absolutely necessary, Pierce (along with then-teammate Kevin Garnett) was traded to Brooklyn last season. He had just one year remaining on his deal, however, so when he didn’t receive an offer to return, he ended up signing a new contract to play for the Wizards.

Pierce, obviously, wasn’t the only player to surprise us by switching teams this summer. LeBron James and Kevin Love ending up in Cleveland changed the Eastern Conference landscape significantly, and Pierce believes that the annual player movement — which often sees stars change locations — is a great thing for the game’s fans.

“The days are long gone of seeing that one player married to one franchise,” Pierce said, in a video interview with The Associated Press. “I was lucky to play 15 years, Kobe’s lucky to play as many years, Duncan, Dirk. But I think those days are over, to where you’re going to see star players in different places, and it’s going to create more balance.

“People love, they can’t wait for the NBA Finals, but they can’t wait for offseason moves, either. It’s a great thing for our league, frustrating for Vegas.”

Seeing stars switch teams undoubtedly creates a heightened level of interest each summer. Players need to be careful about how they go about doing it, for fear of hurting their personal brand or alienating a former fan base the way James did the first time around, or the way Dwight Howard did in both Orlando and Los Angeles.

But overall, Pierce is absolutely right.