At this point in the decision-making process with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, we are trying to read tea leaves, which are notoriously unreliable. But if I was reading tea leaves that said “Hey Tom, you are going to die on Tuesday. No, seriously,” I’d get a little worried.
And the tea leaves are becoming similarly clear in Pierce’s situation. According to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, Pierce has already begun preparing his family for relocation.
From The Boston Globe:
The Celtics have to decide by June 30 whether to buy out Pierce’s contract at $5 million. Ainge said the sides have not had discussions, but an NBA source said Pierce’s family is already beginning to prepare for relocation from Boston, assuming the Celtics will execute the buyout or trade his expiring contract in the offseason.
Pierce struggled mightily during the playoffs, and Ainge was asked whether the longtime Celtic was injured.
“Paul’s always battling little things,” said Ainge. “I think Paul’s healthy, but he played so hard and carried such a heavy load.
“Paul had a terrific year this year, but in the playoffs, New York did a good job of taking away his strengths and taking advantage of some of our weaknesses. But I thought Paul had a terrific year.”
We have all been kind of preparing for this moment. Even though logic would dictate that giving up Pierce and Garnett would free up minimal cap space, this season felt like an ending.
As has been outlined elsewhere, the Celtics have two options if they decide to allow Pierce to leave Boston: Trade his expiring contract (and still very serviceable basketball skills) or buy out his contract for $5 million and allow him to find his next team on his own.
Despite the indignity of the buyout process, the latter may actually be the kinder option for Pierce. He should be allowed to finish on his own terms on a contender of his own choosing, and a buyout would allow him that option. On the other hand, if Ainge could swing a deal with a contender (*cough* the Clippers *cough*) that would still bring the Celtics a serviceable player at a lacking position (*cough* Eric Bledsoe *cough*), that might be an acceptable alternative.
We will save the heartfelt farewell (it won’t be the first one on this site) until we have more certainty, but it’s starting to seem likely that Paul Pierce has played his last game in a Celtics uniform.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.