It has been a week since the Brooklyn Nets’ season ended in Miami. There are many questions facing Brooklyn this offseason with two of the biggest question marks surrounding the future of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
It’s early, but as of now, few in or around the Nets organization know what Pierce and Garnett will do this summer.
Let’s examine reasons why each might stay or leave, starting with Pierce:
REASONS WHY PIERCE WOULD STAY
Money: Pierce isn’t hurting for money by any means. But the Nets have the advantage of owning his Bird Rights and can pay Pierce more than any other suitor. It’s possible the Nets could offer Pierce a one-year deal worth $9 million or more to keep him in Brooklyn. But it’s likely going to take more than money to keep The Truth.
Contending: This will be the most important selling point toward convincing Pierce to re-sign. The Nets have to prove that they can be better than this season when they lost in the second round to Miami.
If the Nets don’t make any blockbuster moves and bring back Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, they could argue that perhaps they will be better. Williams, who likely could have surgery to clean out his ankles, and Lopez could come back healthier. Jason Kidd now has gone through his first season as coach and the team’s core will enter next season no longer trying to figure each other out while learning a new system. And perhaps GM Billy King will find a way to add a few more cheap pieces around the core like they did with Shaun Livingston this past season.
Or, the Nets could trade Williams and/or Lopez and try to add another star and some key pieces that could persuade Pierce to make another run with the Nets. The odds aren’t great of the Nets being able to do this due to Williams' and Lopez's contracts and health, but they will certainly explore all options to improve.
Celtics business: If Garnett opts to come back for one final run, perhaps he persuades Pierce to stay. Of course, most of this is tied to whether the Nets can contend.
New York, New York: Pierce did seem to enjoy his time living in the city. Sure, the Brooklyn crowd at Barclays could have been more electric in the playoff home games, but Pierce knows the Nets are building something and the fans always showered Pierce with adulation and respect. Pierce said he and his family will make his decision.
REASONS WHY PIERCE COULD LEAVE
One more title: At this point, Pierce is driven by only one thing and that is winning another championship. By the time July rolls around, Pierce won’t really know what the Nets’ roster will look like for certain because of their own potential free agents. Key players such as Livingston, Andray Blatche and Andrei Kirilenko might not return.
Still, by July 1, Pierce could have already decided that his chances of winning one more title are better off somewhere else. As expected, Pierce didn’t take the loss to Miami well and it could take a few more weeks for the sting to wear off.
Over the next few months, Pierce might conclude that he can’t win a championship with this core of Williams, Joe Johnson and Lopez. At some point this summer, Pierce will likely talk to his old coach, Doc Rivers, who maintains a close relationship with Pierce and Garnett. Pierce, who turns 37 in October, maintains he has one or two years left of good basketball left in him to give. A contender could always use his experience, confidence and leadership. He averaged 13.5 points and shot 45.1 percent in 28 minutes a game.
Celtics business: Pierce’s decision could be impacted by Garnett’s decision on whether to keep playing (here or elsewhere) or retire. If Garnett retires or wants to play elsewhere, the odds of convincing Pierce to return take a hit.
Also, Pierce still has a lot of Boston in his blood. He spoke about the possibility of returning to Boston someday toward the end of his career. If Danny Ainge makes some blockbuster moves to get Boston back in contention, Pierce could always return to Boston. But the Celtics would have to make some serious moves first.
Odds: The odds don’t sound good of a Pierce return. Those in and around the Nets organization are unsure what Pierce will do. But it’s only May. He has plenty of time to make up his mind. My guess is that Pierce will wait to see what the Nets can do to improve the roster. If the Nets are unable to make significant improvements, he could end up going elsewhere by mid to late July.
Tomorrow: Kevin Garnett.