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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Nets' offseason breakdown: Paul Pierce

By Ohm Youngmisuk

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce is at a crossroads with the Nets. Will he stay or will he go?
This is the third installment of our daily Nets player-by-player breakdown, with an emphasis on what’s to come for next season.

PAUL PIERCE, FORWARD

Year in review: It was a year of major adjustment for Pierce. He had to acclimate himself to a new city and team for the first time in his career, and it took time for the Boston trade to sink in.

Pierce and the Nets got off to an awful start, as the forward broke a bone in his right hand at the end of November. The Nets were 10-21 at the end of 2013. But Pierce returned to the lineup and Jason Kidd moved him to power forward after Brook Lopez was lost for the season. The Nets took off with the smaller lineup, and Pierce was an integral part in Brooklyn’s turnaround after Jan. 1. He and Kevin Garnett also helped with their leadership. Pierce averaged career lows of 13.5 points and 28 minutes a game as Kidd tried to keep his vet fresh for the playoffs.

But come playoff time, the former Celtics duo was unable to get the Nets past the Heat and the second round. Pierce did lift Brooklyn into the second round with a series-clinching block to win Game 7 in Toronto. Against Miami, Pierce averaged 14 points per game but was in foul trouble in the final three games. He and Joe Johnson were unable to score on late possessions in Game 5 to get the Nets over the hump.

Role moving forward: Pierce is an unrestricted free agent. The Nets would like to re-sign him, and they have the ability to pay him more than anybody else since they own his Bird rights. If Pierce re-signs, he will have a second year under his belt in Brooklyn and in Kidd’s system. He will be the team’s leader if he’s back.

The question will be whether he will continue to play at power forward or small forward. He and the team were better with him at power forward. He also would likely play the same amount of minutes or less for the Nets next season as a veteran needed for his leadership, experience and scoring. If the Nets don’t deal Lopez, the center will try to make another comeback from foot surgery, which could push Pierce back to small forward, especially if Garnett is back.

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent.

What they’re saying:


"I haven't really put much thought into it. I put my whole focus into this season. It's my last year of the contract. I will sit back and talk to the family and see where my options are from there and go from there.
I think I still have something in the tank I can give a team. Maybe one or two [years] at the most." -- Pierce



Should they bring him back? Yes, but the decision lies with Pierce. He has several reasons why he could stay or go. He will surely want to play for a title contender next season, and it remains to be seen if the Nets will be that and what they might do this offseason.

Pierce, however, gives the Nets invaluable leadership and experience. Another year with some of the same teammates and a more experienced Kidd should help. If Pierce opts to return, it likely means that he was looking for the security of more money and that he still thinks the Nets can contend in the East. And if he comes back, Garnett could opt to play another year. If those two are back, the Nets can still contend with a healthy Deron Williams and Lopez in the fold to go with Johnson and maybe a few new surrounding pieces.