Paul Pierce makes the expected official, will opt out of contract to become free agent

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This has been expected for a while even the Washington Wizards admitted this was coming — but on Saturday Paul Pierce made it official, he is becoming a free agent.

Pierce retweeted this from the Players Tribune.

Pierce will turn 38 next season, but his “old man at the Y” crafty game still gets the job done — he averaged 11.9 points a game and shot 38.9 percent from three. He has thrived more as a small four the last few seasons.

Teams are going to be lined up to land him.

The Wizards want to bring him back, to start. Here is what GM Ernie Grunfeld told J. Michael at CSNWashington.com.

“We want Paul back obviously. I think he had a good year here,” said Grunfeld on Friday after the team introduced first-round draft pick Kelly Oubre at Verizon Center. “He enjoyed his teammates. He enjoyed the city. He enjoyed the environment in the city.

“He’s going to be a free agent. It’s his call but if you ask me if we want him back — absolutely.”

However, the front runners to land Pierce, if you ask around the league, are the Los Angeles Clippers. They are looking for a new starting three (they traded Matt Barnes, but want to bring Lance Stephenson off the bench) and someone with playoff experience to help them over the hump in the West. Plus they are coached by Pierce’s old friend Doc Rivers.

The Celtics are interested as well, trying to pitch Pierce and Kevin Love on coming to Boston (well, for Pierce back to Boston).

Of course, money will play a factor. The Wizards can offer up to $5.5 million to Pierce (the max raise they can give under the CBA), and other teams will need to be at least in that ballpark or higher.