EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Paul Pierce has moved on.
Pierce spent the first 15 years of his career with the Boston Celtics, but the 36-year-old veteran -- who didn’t rule out playing in Tuesday’s game against his former team -- says he’s been over the initial shock of being traded to the Brooklyn Nets for a while now.
“I’ve already been past that a long time ago,” Pierce said Monday. “I’m a person that’s always been when it’s time to move on, you move on. You can ask any girlfriend I’ve ever had. That’s just the way it is. There’s no hard feelings. I’m here. This is where I’m at now, and you’ve gotta move on. You can’t mourn or put your head down. (You) just go to work.”
Pierce has had a tough time adjusting to his new team. In 15 games with the Nets (6-14), he’s averaging just 12.4 points on 36.8 percent shooting.
Pierce has missed the last five games due to a broken bone in his right hand. He thinks there’s a “good chance” he’ll play against the Celtics on Tuesday night at Barclays Center, but isn’t certain.
“I’ve had my ups and downs, but it’s not about me,” Pierce said. “It’s about getting this team healthy right now and trying to see if we can reach our potential.
“One of our goals before the season was to try and win a championship. Unfortunately, we didn’t get off to the best start, and I probably haven’t been playing the best basketball, due to some other minor injuries I’ve been dealing with. But I feel like as we continue to get healthy and guys come back and we get our chemistry, we’re gonna be there toward the end.”
Pierce still thinks the Nets have the potential to be a championship team.
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“It’s just putting it all together, developing chemistry, getting healthy and then seeing what we’ve got,” he said. “We’ve seen flashes of it at times, but it’s tough when you don’t know who’s going to be in the lineup and who’s going to be out. But injuries happen to every team and it’s something we have to deal with. But I’d like to see us when we get fully healthy and see what our potential can possibly be.”
Pierce will make his regular-season return to Boston Jan. 26. He travelled there for Brooklyn’s preseason game, but was not at the arena while the game was played.
“I think the emotions are already behind me,” Pierce said. “We played them in the preseason. We had our press conference. I probably won’t have any more emotions until I get back into the arena that I played in. But I’ve moved on, they’ve on, Doc (Rivers) has moved on, Ray Allen (has) moved on. So it is what it is.”
Pierce says it’s just a “coincidence” that he is returning to perhaps face his former team and former coach this week. The Nets host Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.
Rivers will make his return to Boston the night before. Pierce expects Rivers to get a standing ovation from Celtics fans and would be “surprised” if he doesn’t.
The relationship between the fans and their former coach soured after Rivers left for a Western Conference contender, passing on being a part of Boston’s rebuilding process.
“I think he’ll get a standing ovation no doubt from what he’s been able to bring to the organization,” Pierce said. “How many years was he in Boston? Nine? Yeah. He was able to bring a championship (in 2007-08) and to almost bring another one. He should receive a standing ovation. Doc deserves an ovation from how he was able to change the culture of the organization.”
Pierce was asked about his level of frustration has been this season.
“I don’t know if i can put it at a level,” he replied. “You don’t like to lose. You don’t like to be injured. But that’s what I think makes me the player that I am. I don’t get down. I don’t go home and sulk. I just try to see what I can do to help this team get better. I just try to stay positive no matter what the situation is. That’s all I can do, that’s all I’ve ever done.”
Back in 2007-08, the Celtics acquired Garnett and Allen to go along with Pierce and ripped off 20 wins in their first 22 games together. And it all culminated with a title. Things haven’t gone nearly as smoothly in Brooklyn.
“I knew it was gonna be tough because in 2008 we got together in September and we went away for training camp to Rome,” Pierce said. “This year we came into training camp with injuries. Our point guard Deron (Williams) has been hurt since training camp. He’s kind of the head of our snake, and the way we’re going to play is going to be determined by how he pushes the tempo. That’s kind of been the missing element for us. But until we get him back, I don’t know if we’ll be able to see our true potential.”
Pierce was asked about transitioning from the center of the offense in Boston to a role player in Brooklyn.
“I’ll figure it out. I’m not a selfish player,” he said. “If I have to come off the bench or not play and be a cheerleader on the bench, if it’s going to help us win then I’ll do that.”
Pierce is surprised with the start the first-place Celtics have gotten off to under rookie coach Brad Stevens.
“I think they’re coming together. They’re really surprising a lot of people,” Pierce said. “Guys are stepping up. They’re playing good team ball. They’re running. They’re playing together despite (Rajon) Rondo being out.”
Pierce is in the final year of his contract and will make $15.3 million this season.
Beyond that, his future is unclear.
Asked about potentially signing a one-day contract with the Celtics so he can retire there when his playing days are through, Pierce replied, “I don’t know. We’ll see when it comes to that. I don’t know how long I’m going to be playing. Who says next year will be my last year? When it’s time to cross that road, then we’ll see.”