Wow! Paul Pierce has signed with the Wizards. The Wizards. The Washington Wizards. The laughingstock Washington Wizards. Laughingstock no more. What does this all mean?
This is a fantastic signing to me. A bridge signing. This move should still allow Otto Porter to get his minutes, while being mentored by a surefire Hall-of-Famer. Seems like a solid move, with some downside, but not much. If Pierce is totally washed, the risk is mitigated in that the contract is only two years. If it works, the Wizards have maintained their playoff status, probably even boosted it, and continue things on an upward trajectory for John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Whether starting or off the bench, this appears to be a decent move on the court. Paul Pierce will be 37 by opening night, and is obviously in decline, but he is still an effective player. He averaged 28 minutes per game in Brooklyn last season, averaging 13.5 points per game and 17.3 per 36. The first number I went to look at was his three point percentage last year because, you know, John Wall. He shot 37% on four attempts per game (Trevor Ariza shot 41% on 6 attempts per in 2013-14), but 54.5% from the corner (Ariza shot 44.6% from corner last season). Look, I won’t kid myself and tell you that Paul Pierce is an Ariza “replacement”. He doesn’t have the athleticism and defensive prowess that Ariza did, but forget that, I’m choosing to be completely rosy in this post. Without analyzing all of his stats, my eyeball thought is that his court awareness and experience alone makes this a very positive acquisition (#hottakezzzzz).
With Paul Pierce, the Wizards have about $62.5 million in assigned salaries at this point (NOT including cap holds), with eight players on the roster. I’m willing to believe that Glen Rice, Jr. will be back at $816K, and Drew Gooden will be back at the veteran’s minimum, which for him looks like $1.4 million. That’s $65 million for ten players. Signing Pierce for the MLE means that the Wizards are hard capped for 2014-15, meaning the team can’t go over about $81 million in cap space. With only possibilities to sign other teams’s free agents with minimum contracts, it means that Trevor Booker and maybe even Kevin Seraphin are back, as they are the only bigs that can be had for more. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. There are still other players that can be had for the minimum, AND the team has two small trade exceptions that can be used to acquire players. I’m not sure what, if anything, this means for Martell Webster. Probably nothing, but I felt the need to throw that sentence in here.
Pierce’s contract will be off the books by the summer of the magical 2016, when Nene’s contract is also off the books, Beal is eligible for a max extension (yea, I’m already penciling that in), and Kevin Durant is a free agent. With great flexibility and an increasing salary cap, there should be room to offer Durant a max or near-max deal, barring some cap-clogging deal that happens between now and then. While I still don’t think the likelihood of this to happen is very high, I am still encouraged that the team appears to be making an attempt.
This has implications as a Wizards fan and probably league-wide. It seems to say that the Wizards are a destination. A team to be taken seriously as one to watch moving forward. Seems like a seminal moment here. John Wall and Bradley Beal are players that free agents WANT to play with. I’m excited at just the thought of this. Paul Pierce WANTED to play for the Wizards.
The late afternoon yesterday left a weird feeling for most Wizards fans. Most were resigned to the thought that Trevor Ariza was leaving, but it still hit like a ton of bricks when it was announced. A deal only averaging $8 million per year?! I thought the Wizards were offering $9? How could this be?
Well, all I’ll say is maybe tax implications (no state income tax in Texas) played a role, and perhaps Ariza felt that while the Wizards are an up and coming team, the Rockets were more established to compete for a title NOW, even in the West. If the money was similar, maybe, obviously, he thought Houston was the right place for him. Hey, I can’t knock the hustle, good luck to ya, #ArizaBruh.
As Otto Porter – by the way, I know it’s Summer League, but did Otto and GRJR tear it up yesterday?! ARE YOU WITH ME?! KOOL-AID FOR EVERYBODY!!! - said upon hearing the news, “I mean, hey, the door opens up.” A man of succinct and timely words, that Otto. The door opens for Porter, it has opened for Paul Pierce, and while it’s still a longshot, maybe, just maybe, it opens the door for #KD2DC in 2016.