What does this mean for the Nets? Let’s take a look:
One and done: This was supposed to be at least a two-year window. Or so we thought. The Nets surrendered three first-round picks in a blockbuster trade for Pierce and Kevin Garnett last summer with hopes of winning a championship.
Jason Kidd helped convince Garnett to waive his no-trade clause and sold the two Boston vets on Brooklyn being a title contender with them. But their one-year together was a bag of mixed results.
The Nets got off to a rocky 10-21 start before turning things around and finishing 44-38. They needed seven games, and a Pierce series-clinching block to get past Toronto in the first round before losing to Miami in the second round in five games.
Kidd then left for Milwaukee after asking for and failing to receive control over basketball decisions. Now Pierce is gone to Washington, becoming just a one-year rental basically. The Nets also lost Shaun Livingston in free agency after the point guard signed with Golden State.
Moving on: Going into free agency, all indications were that the Nets wanted to keep Pierce but at perhaps $6-to-$8 million per season for a short-term deal. But league sources say the Nets ultimately decided to go in a different direction and passed on matching Washington’s offer. The Nets also passed on any sign-and-trade possibilities to get something in return for Pierce.
The team’s thinking is that it would like to develop younger talent at forward now after recently acquiring 20-year-old Russian forward Sergey Karasev in the Jarrett Jack deal. The Nets also are expected to sign prospect Bojan Bogdanovic, whom the Nets acquired in a draft night deal in 2011, for their mini-midlevel exception sometime this week according to sources.
Pierce’s departure also could mean more minutes for Mirza Teletovic, who had a breakout season.
Big Ticket: What does this mean for KG? We will soon find out. The Nets still expect Garnett to return this season for the final year of his contract worth $12 million.
But Garnett could return and be unhappy. He clearly did not envision playing for the Nets without Pierce and Kidd when he waived his no-trade clause last summer. Garnett may be in the twilight of his career and maybe a 20-minute-a-night player who plays 50-60 games and sits on back-to-backs at this point. But he’s still an asset as far as being a positive influence on younger teammates and a mentor to the likes of Lopez and Mason Plumlee.
If Garnett returns and doesn’t like the situation, both sides could opt to try and seek a trade later in the season. We will have to wait and see if Garnett does return and how happy he will be now that his best friend Pierce is gone.
The Truth: Pierce averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 75 games for the Nets. He broke a bone in his hand early in the season but played a pivotal role in helping the Nets make their turnaround from that disastrous start by playing at power forward after Lopez was lost for the season.
He became a leader on the team in a short period of time and this was evident in big games against big opponents. Nets like Williams deferred to Pierce, who hit some big shots against Toronto and Miami in the playoffs. He didn't always have it, averaging just 13.7 points in the playoffs. But his experience and playmaking abilities had to always be accounted for.
His defining moment as a Net likely will be his series-winning block at the end of Game 7 to send the Nets into the second round.