Brooklyn Nets: paul pierce

Who will lead the Nets?

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
3:29
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As free agency winds down, the Brooklyn Nets have added some much-needed youth and athleticism.

But did the Nets sacrifice two major attributes that they seemed so intent on adding just a year ago? When Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were introduced as Nets seated alongside Jason Kidd in a press conference at Barclays last summer, Brooklyn felt it had added two critical missing ingredients -– leadership and toughness.

With Kidd and Pierce now gone, where will the Nets turn for the leadership and toughness when they need it most this season? It appears that the Nets will have rely heavily on new coach Lionel Hollins for both.

Remember, the Nets felt that they were a tad too soft and lacked toughness, leadership and experience with the core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez after losing Game 7 in the first round to Chicago in 2013.

[+] EnlargeKevin Garnett
Elsa/Getty ImagesIf Kevin Garnett returns for a final season, he can provide the leadership and toughness.
"You saw it, there were certain games where things just happened that you can't allow to happen," Nets general manager Billy King said last year. "At some point, you've got to knock a guy on his ass if they're doing things. You've got to take a hard foul and let them know you just can't do that. And we didn't do it."

If Garnett returns, as the Nets expect, for a final season, he can provide the leadership and toughness. However, Garnett will be the first to tell you that he feels much more comfortable leading and infusing the team with toughness by playing on the court and playing well. And unfortunately for Garnett, the 38-year-old big man will likely be playing limited minutes and perhaps even limited games.

So who will provide it on the court for the majority of a game? The Nets are hoping that Pierce, Kidd and Garnett’s toughness and leadership rubbed off on Williams, Johnson and Lopez in the one season they all had together –- a disjointed season at that due to all the injuries to Pierce, Garnett, Williams and Lopez.

The Nets’ toughness will certainly be a question mark entering this season. Before Williams and Lopez can begin to push anybody back, they’ll need to have confidence that they can push off on their surgically-repaired ankles and feet, respectively. It could take a while to regain that type of confidence again.

After losing Shaun Livingston in free agency, the Nets did add Jarrett Jack, a hard-nosed guard who won’t back down and can rise in pressure-packed moments. Fellow role players like Andrei Kirilenko, Mirza Teletovic, Alan Anderson and Mason Plumlee also play with an edge.

And perhaps one of the new youthful additions -– Sergey Karasev, Markel Brown, Cory Jefferson or Bojan Bogdanovic –- will surprise and exceed expectations and offset some of their inexperience with some toughness.

But this is where losing Pierce hurts. While Pierce won’t average 20-something points nightly, the veteran set a tone on many nights for the Nets. Look no further than the regular-season games against the Heat that had a big-game feel to them along with the first-round series when Pierce came up big against the Raptors, particularly on the road when the Nets needed him most.

Johnson may be the Nets' best go-to option but Pierce was the guy they often looked to when the moment called for leadership or experience. Johnson displayed a quiet toughness last season with his stellar play but he’s not the vocal-type of leader to grab the team and take charge like Pierce could.

Kidd might’ve been inexperienced as a head coach last season but the players all respected his vast playing experience and he wasn't afraid to make some gutsy postseason moves such as putting Anderson in the starting lineup for Livingston against Toronto with the season on the line.

Hollins, though, brings a wealth of experience and he’s known as a tough, no-nonsense coach. He has to be the guy who provides the intangibles that Kidd and Pierce took with them to Milwaukee and Washington, respectively.

Garnett won’t be on the floor as much as he would like. Williams and Lopez will be on the mend and taking things slowly at the start.

It’s gotta be Lionel to provide the toughness and leadership. If not, this coming season might feel a lot like 2013 again.

Would this Nets deal have been a winner?

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
12:36
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What do you think of this “deal”?

Nets trade: Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston
Nets receive: Lionel Hollins, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev

Would you have considered it at the start of the offseason?

Obviously, the Nets did not make the trade above. But when you look at it, they basically did.

Out are Kidd, Pierce and Livingston. In are Hollins, Bogdanovic, Jack and Karasev.

On paper, it looks like the Nets got an upgrade at coach and a downgrade in personnel.

The games will have to be played, of course, to determine whether that is actually the case.

Early on, the Nets looked like a disaster last season. But then they got their act together, figured out who they were as a team, and began to thrive. Kidd, Pierce and Livingston all played a huge part in that. Kidd became a better coach with experience, Pierce’s leadership proved to be invaluable and Livingston was such a pivotal part of Brooklyn’s turnaround. It would’ve been nice if they all came back next season, with their system and identity already in place. But Kidd made his failed power play, and that was that.

Nevertheless, maybe Hollins will have an impact similar to a Steve Clifford or a Tom Thibodeau. Maybe Jack will revert back to being the dominant point guard he was in New Orleans and Golden State. Maybe Bogdanovic will live up to the hype.

We’ll just have to wait and see before determining whether this has all worked out in the end.

Question: How would you have viewed this “trade”? Let us know in the comments section below.

The difference a Pierce makes in Brooklyn

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
8:00
PM ET
Paul PierceNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesIn the span of a year, Paul Pierce helped revive a franchise that had meddled in mediocrity.
When you think about the Paul Pierce era in Brooklyn, you think about emotion.

You think about the stunned look Pierce wore on his face during a news conference on July 18, 2013, at Barclays Center, still struggling to come to the realization that he had been traded from Boston, the place he had spent the first 15 seasons of his future Hall of Fame career.

You think about Pierce fighting back tears the night he returned to TD Garden for the first time as a visitor on Jan. 26, 2014, the night he desperately needed in order to move on and be able to embrace his new home.

You think about Pierce screaming “That’s why they got me here!” after sticking the dagger in Toronto on April 19, 2014, silencing the raucous crowd at Air Canada Center and enabling the Nets to steal Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Raptors.

Pierce may have spent only one season in Brooklyn, but he sure had his share of unforgettable moments with the Nets.

***

It all started on June 27, 2013, when Brooklyn and Boston agreed in principle on the blockbuster trade that sent Pierce and teammate Kevin Garnett from the Celtics to the Nets in exchange for five players, three future first-round draft picks (2014, 2016, 2018) and the right to swap first-rounders in 2017.

A little over two weeks later, the deal became official. “Today, the basketball gods smiled on the Nets,” owner Mikhail Prokhorov said.

“You spend your whole, almost half your life in one city, you get used to it,” Pierce told ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan. “For you to make the move, it’s a huge adjustment. I mean, I know nothing else but Boston.”

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The math behind the Nets' moves

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
3:09
PM ET
In an effort to win at all costs, the Brooklyn Nets created a financial mess.

Now, they’re trying to get themselves out of it. They’re still going to spend. They just want to spend smarter.

Last season, the Nets paid out an NBA-record $90,570,781 in luxury taxes and $102,828,064 in player salaries, according to ShamSports.com .

Add those totals up, and you get $193,398,845. That’s a lot of money for a second-round playoff exit.

Also, as has been well-documented by now, Grantland reported that the Nets lost $144 million in basketball-related business in 2013-14 -- $131 million more than the next highest team. Again, a lot of money. Even if you take out the luxury taxes, the loss still comes to $53,429,219. Still, a lot of money even though, as Grantland pointed out, the figures above do not appear to do not appear to include benefits the Nets and owner Mikhail Prokhorov get from their ownership stake in Barclays Center.

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How big a problem are the Nets' finances?

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By now, you may be asking yourself the following: Wait, according to Forbes, isn’t Prokhorov worth $10.9 billion? Sure, but losing money is losing money. And remember this: Privately, according to a league source, Prokhorov is open to listening to offers from potential buyers. Publicly, he told reporters in a statement that he has no interest in selling the team. But in light of Steve Ballmer’s pending $2 billion bid to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers, Prokhorov figured he’d at least get a gauge and see what his team is worth on the open market. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll definitely sell. It just means, at the very least, that he’s curious as to his team’s valuation.

After the Grantland report came out, the Nets issued a statement via Irina Pavlova, President of ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment, the entity that oversees the franchise.

“Nets ownership has said from day one that the main goal was putting together a championship caliber team, and that no effort would be spared to this end,” Pavlova said. “So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that significant investments have been made in the roster and in upgrading basketball operations on all fronts. We are certain that the team will become profitable in time, as planned.”

The Nets did invest $45 million to build a brand-new practice facility in Brooklyn, which is slated to open in 2015-16. And they will, in all likelihood, lead the league in payroll again in 2014-15. But their decision-making when it came to deciding whether to retain Paul Pierce deviated from how they handled business in the past.

“We have the ability to pay him more than everybody else, but we are going to be a little bit more financially responsible at this point in time,” GM Billy King said.

By now, you know what happened. The Nets decided to pass on Pierce, and he signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Washington Wizards, which included a second-year player option.

Many, including myself, believed the Nets should’ve paid Pierce. Team brass, however, disagreed, determining that from both a basketball and a business perspective, according to league sources, it didn’t make sense. Pierce was turning 37 and the Nets felt like they were already set at power forward. They didn’t feel like they were going to win it all with him, and they wanted to give their younger players a chance. Pierce has yet to comment publicly. His take on the events that unfolded will be interesting.

Now let’s break down where the Nets are financially at this point. Here are their projected salary cap commitments in 2014-15.

The Nets currently have 12 players with guaranteed contracts. In our numbers in the chart on the right, we are assuming that Jorge Gutierrez’s non-guaranteed deal does become guaranteed and second-round pick Markel Brown signs. (The signings of Bojan Bogdanovic and Alan Anderson have yet to be made official by the team).

The tax line for 2014-15 was set at $76,829,000, meaning the Nets are over by $16,702,974, and must pay progressively on every dollar they exceed it (see ESPN salary cap guru Larry Coon’s blog and question 21 for more detailed information).

Total luxury taxes owed: $34,846,665.50
Total player salaries and luxury taxes: $128,378,639.50

Five years ago, when he first gained majority ownership of the Nets, Prokhorov said he wanted to win a championship by 2015. He was willing to do whatever it took to get there. Money wasn’t going to be an issue -- that is, until it became an issue.

Brooklyn’s ultimate plan is to have ample cap space in the summer of 2016, when the likes of Kevin Durant and Joakim Noah could become free agents. They would have to pay the repeater rate if they exceed the tax line in 2015-16, though they are unlikely to want to do that given they want to clear salary, not take money on.
Anyway, back to Pierce. Let’s say the Nets decided to pay him $6 million per season, bringing their total cap commitments up to $99,531,974. That would mean they would have to pay luxury taxes on $22,702,974, which means their total owed would be $55,386,152.50.

Add the player salaries and luxury taxes and you get $154,918,126.50.

So bringing back Pierce at $6 million would’ve cost the Nets an extra $26,539,487.

League sources told ESPNNewYork.com that the Nets have their eyes on the future, and don’t want their decision-making impacted by all the first-round picks they gave up in the blockbuster trade that brought Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn. Letting Pierce walk, they ultimately felt, was the right decision.

Take $193,398,845, subtract $128,378,639.50 and the Nets are spending $65,020,205.50 less on this season’s roster. Whether you agree with their decision is another story. But that’s the math behind it.
It was only a year ago when the Brooklyn Nets put their chips on the table and were all-in.

General manager Billy King sent three first-round picks to the Boston Celtics for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The Nets had visions of Pierce, Garnett and rookie coach Jason Kidd bringing a black-and-white confetti parade to Brooklyn.

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce is jetting off to Washington.
"Today, the basketball gods smiled on the Nets," owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement after the trade became official on July 12, 2013.

A year later, Kidd and Pierce are gone. Things have dramatically changed in Brooklyn about as fast as Kidd fast-breaked his way out of town.

The Nets, who compiled that $200 million roster with the sole purpose of winning it all, have shifted their approach, perhaps by a combination of choice and circumstances. They’ve gone from thinking only about immediately winning a title to more of an approach of remaining competitive but also being a bit smarter with their money and developing some younger talent.

League sources say the Nets decided not to offer a deal to Pierce that would match or exceed the two-year, $11 million deal he finalized with the Wizards late Saturday night.

The Nets owned Pierce’s Bird Rights and could have paid him as much as they wanted. But they passed on Pierce for a couple of reasons: They didn’t think they were going to win a championship with Pierce and this current roster and they also wanted to start developing some of their younger talent, according to sources.

Remember those days of Prokhorov spending money like it was going out of style? After the basketball side of the Nets’ business lost a projected $144 million over the 2013-14 season, as reported by Grantland’s Zach Lowe, Brooklyn is going to be a bit more thoughtful about its spending.

The Nets still want to remain competitive but also reload when their cap situation is expected to allow them to in 2016-17. They just didn’t see a championship happening this season with LeBron James now in Cleveland with a stable of No. 1 overall picks and the Bulls hoping Derrick Rose comes back healthy and Chicago having reached an agreement with Pau Gasol.

There’s still Indiana to contend with, and the Raptors and Wizards are only going to get better.

So as it turns out, Pierce was just a one-year rental, now off to tutor John Wall and Bradley Beal on how to win. Kidd is in Milwaukee now coaching Jabari Parker. And that leaves Garnett with a decision to make.

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce, Kevin Garnett
David Richard/USA TODAY SportsHow will Kevin Garnett react to playing in Brooklyn without his best friend?
Does the Big Ticket want to keep playing and return to Brooklyn for the final year of his contract, which is worth $12 million? A league source said the Nets fully expect him to.

But even if KG does come back, how happy will he be? Garnett is an absolute professional. But he clearly didn’t envision playing for the Nets without his best friend Pierce and Kidd gone just a year after waiving his no-trade clause.

This is just one factor that could lead to a potentially rocky start to the upcoming season for the Nets. Brooklyn is now going from all-in on winning a title to returning to their original blueprint for success.

The Nets are back to leaning heavily on Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson being good enough to keep them in playoff contention with the right surrounding pieces.

But remember that Williams and Lopez are both coming off surgery. The Nets simply have to take it slow with their two franchise players and make sure there are no more setbacks. After Williams suffered repeated setbacks in recent years, the point guard is going to want to make sure he doesn’t come back until absolutely ready. The Nets should also be just as cautious, if not more, with Lopez and his fragile feet. So Lopez should be on a minutes restriction and perhaps even held out of playing back-to-backs for a while.

Add on the fact that the Nets have a new head coach/new system to learn for the second time in a year while trying to develop some younger, inexperienced players and Brooklyn has the potential for another shaky start to the season.

Last season, the Nets got off to a disastrous 10-21 start. Lionel Hollins is a veteran coach who should be able to manage this start better than Kidd was able to last year before he finally got comfortable and the Nets got healthier.

Hollins and the Nets will also want to develop young talent like Mason Plumlee, Mirza Teletovic, recently acquired 20-year-old forward Sergey Karasev and prospect Bojan Bogdanovic, who will sign for their mini-midlevel exception sometime this week, according to sources.

Hollins won’t have Pierce’s leadership and experience to be the glue for the team. And he could have an unhappy KG on his hands. As you can see, the Nets are moving on from the Pierce-Garnett-Kidd era.

Some might criticize King for giving up three first-round picks for Pierce. It’s a heavy price to pay for basically getting the Nets out of the first round with a series-clinching block by Pierce against Toronto in Game 7 and the hope that his championship experience rubbed off on younger guys in just one season.

Was it a mistake to give up that many picks? Yes. But it does take courage for the Nets to realize this and basically cut their losses and alter their approach. The Nets are right in the fact that they weren’t going to win a championship even if Pierce, Garnett and Kidd returned for another season.

At the very best, the Nets might’ve been able to get past the second round if things had broken their way. The East is somewhat open since LeBron left Miami. Cleveland could go through growing pains with young players like Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins still needing to learn how to win. And there are no guarantees with Rose’s health in Chicago.

Bringing back Pierce would have helped the Nets remain in the discussion, but not at the top of the East.

Perhaps the Nets also might’ve sensed the possibility that Pierce ideally wanted to be somewhere else. After the season ended, sources said Pierce really wanted to only play in two places -- either Brooklyn or for the Los Angeles Clippers and his former coach Doc Rivers.

That was before Kidd went through a messy divorce with the Nets. No matter who is to blame in the Kidd split, Pierce could not have liked seeing something as dramatic as that happen on the eve of free agency. The Nets looked a tad dysfunctional even if they were blindsided by the Kidd fiasco.

King moved quickly to stabilize the situation with the Hollins hiring. Now the Nets are also heading in a different direction than the championship-or-bust path they were moving in last summer.

Kidd is gone. And now Pierce is, too. KG could be next eventually.

Not even the basketball gods could have predicted this just one year ago.

Reaction: Pierce heads to Washington

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
1:52
AM ET
After going through a messy divorce with Jason Kidd, the Brooklyn Nets are now saying goodbye to Paul Pierce.

After just one season with the Nets, Pierce is joining the Washington Wizards, signing a two-year, $11 million deal as first reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein.

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.

Bottom line, the Nets are now banking on the core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez to step up and lead. Remember, Williams and Lopez are both making their way back from surgeries.

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.

Analysis: Fluid East landscape for Nets

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
3:37
PM ET


There’s been a seismic shift in the Eastern Conference with LeBron James' move to Cleveland.

How does this affect the Brooklyn Nets? Let’s take a look at the immediate landscape in the East for the Nets:

Cleveland rocks: LeBron's move back home makes the Cavs instant contenders. But things are still fluid. Reports are the Cavs are going to make a run at trying to trade for Kevin Love, which would certainly make Cleveland the obvious front-runner to win the East and the hot team to pick to win it all.

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Does LeBron's decision make you more or less confident in the Nets' chances next season?

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But let’s say the Cavs don’t get Love and add just a few more veterans such as a Ray Allen-type to fill out the supporting cast. If that’s the case, the Cavs, Bulls and Pacers are likely the top three teams in the East.

We have to see how things shake out for the Bulls. If Carmelo Anthony ends up in Chicago, the Bulls could leapfrog the Cavs (assuming Love doesn’t end up with James). Also, we have to keep an eye on where Pau Gasol ends up. If Gasol winds up with an East team like the Bulls or Knicks, that is an upgrade for that team as well.

If the Knicks keep Anthony and then are able to find a way to add Gasol, the Knicks would move up. And you can’t forget about a young and up-and-coming Washington squad as well.

The Truth for the Nets: If Love doesn’t end up with the Cavs, the Nets have perhaps one thing going for them –- maybe this is where their experience will pay off. The Nets would need a lot of breaks. But if Cleveland enters the season with James, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao and their No. 1 picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, the Cavs could still have some growing pains. Even LeBron admitted as much in his essay in Sports Illustrated on tempering championship expectations for this season.

As great as Irving is, he and young talents like Waiters still must learn how to win, although they'll certainly benefit from James' help.

If the Nets find a way to re-sign Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett comes back for one more season, Brooklyn's roster would go into this postseason with two full seasons playing together. The Nets may not be favorites in the East, but they can remain in the discussion if the Bulls and Cavs don't make any more significant additions.

Deron and Brook: Brooklyn will hope Deron Williams and Brook Lopez will come back stronger and healthier from surgery.

They have to learn a new system, but with Lionel Hollins coaching vets such as Joe Johnson, and Jarrett Jack perhaps being a key contributor, the Nets could be a threat. In many ways, the Nets did not have a healthy and confident Williams in the playoffs last season. And Lopez was lost for the season back in December.

The Bulls (especially if Melo stays with the Knicks and Chicago doesn't make any major upgrades) still have to see if Derrick Rose can come back healthy. The Pacers have their flaws. The Cavs have LeBron but also have tantalizing but unproven young talent. The Wizards and Raptors, both young teams, also have to take another step forward. The road to the Finals, though, doesn’t run through Miami anymore.

Window closing: If anything, LeBron’s move might make it more imperative for the Nets to keep Pierce in the fold and pay him. Remember, Brooklyn created basically a two-year window to contend when it dealt for Pierce and Garnett last summer. Cleveland’s future looks incredible. But for this season alone, the Nets’ experience could pay dividends while the Cavs learn how to win.

The Nets just have to hope Love doesn’t end up in Cleveland and that Anthony doesn’t go to Chicago. The next week or two of free agency will likely define exactly where the Nets stand in the East.

Paul Pierce eliminated in WSOP

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
10:26
AM ET
Paul Pierce made a remarkable run in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event.

But his dreams of cashing were squashed early Friday morning, when he was eliminated just shy of the money.

According to ESPN.com’s poker expert Andrew Feldman, Pierce finished in around 800th place. The top 693 finishers get paid.

Nevertheless, Pierce has nothing to be ashamed of. This year’s tournament field featured 6,683 entrants, and the future Hall of Fame forward, who played last season with the Brooklyn Nets, nearly made it to Day 4 in the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em event.

Pierce was ousted in tough fashion. He went all-in with a board of A-J-3-6-4. Pierce held A-4, two pair, but his opponent, after thinking for a few minutes, called and showed A-J, top two pair. (You can find more details here).

According to WSOP.com, Pierce uttered “Damn!” as he saw his opponent’s hand and revealed his own. He received a nice applause from the rail, which had grown as the days went on, and said, “Good run!” before exiting.

Pierce ultimately played 28 hours of poker without making any money. But don’t worry. He’ll be OK financially. $10,000 to Pierce, who made $15,333,334 in 2013-14, is the equivalent of $32.61 to a person who makes $50,000 a year.

As Feldman pointed out, a minimum cash is $18,406. Pierce would’ve made that in 2 1/2 minutes of playing time on the court last season.

The poker community certainly took to Pierce’s run. He frequently received massages, which cost between $1-3 a minute plus tip.



Pierce can now fully turn his attention to free agency -- when he further can increase his bankroll.

Sources: Pierce wants $9-10 million per year

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
5:37
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When it comes to negotiations for Paul Pierce, the Brooklyn Nets have their number -- and the veteran forward has his.

The Nets would like to pay Pierce around $6-8 million per season on a short-term contract, sources say.

Pierce, however, as first reported by Sports Illustrated and confirmed by ESPNNewYork.com, would like to be paid around $9-10 million.

Sources have said since before the start of free agency that it likely was going to take somewhere in the neighborhood of $9-10 million to entice Pierce to come back.

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesWill Paul Pierce stay in a Nets jersey next season?
“I think we’re in the process [of negotiations],” Nets GM Billy King said in a recent interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s “The Michael Kay Show.” “We know the number we want to get to, I think [Pierce and his agent] know the number they want to get to. We’re just trying to get to the point where we’re all comfortable and I know what we’re trying to accomplish, and it’s just in the negotiation process. That’s all it is. We have the ability to pay him more than everybody else, but we are going to be a little bit more financially responsible at this point in time.”

The Los Angeles Clippers tried to engage the Nets in a sign-and-trade deal for Pierce, but King said it did not make sense for his team.

The Clippers are attractive to Pierce because he’d be reunited with his former coach, Doc Rivers, and he’s from Los Angeles. Plus, the Clippers are a Western Conference contender with a core that includes Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Other teams that miss out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony could also become interested in Pierce.

The Nets have Pierce’s Bird Rights, enabling them to pay him more money than any other team.

Pierce, who will turn 37 this season, made $15.3 million last season. He’s been on record as saying he’d like to play for another year or two.

Pierce’s longtime teammate, Kevin Garnett, is expected to return to Brooklyn for his 20th season. Garnett has yet to confirm his decision publicly, however.

Pierce is currently playing in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.

Two words: Pay Pierce

July, 4, 2014
Jul 4
2:54
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The Brooklyn Nets, you would think, need Paul Pierce more than he needs them.

So it certainly came as a surprise Thursday when Brooklyn GM Billy King, during an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s “The Michael Kay Show,” said the Nets would all of a sudden become fiscally responsible in their negotiations with the unrestricted free-agent forward.

Pierce has already drawn interest from several contenders, including the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.

Those are some extremely attractive options -- especially L.A., where Pierce could be reunited with his former coach Doc Rivers and get to play with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, two of the most dominant players in the league.

The Nets’ biggest advantage over the competition when it comes to trying to retain Pierce is that they hold his Bird rights, enabling them to pay him more money than any other team.

But Brooklyn, sources said, would like to keep Pierce on a short-term contract worth between $6 million and $8 million a year.

It’s completely understandable that the Nets don’t want to overpay for Pierce. But they’ve already committed more than $90 million in player salaries for next season, so what’s the difference?

Why spend all that money only to suddenly practice austerity when it comes to keeping a future Hall of Fame forward who all but singlehandedly carried your franchise through to the second round with his late-game heroics in Toronto in Games 1 and 7?

The Nets made a huge splash last offseason, acquiring both Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics. They sacrificed three future first-round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018) and a potential first-round-pick swap (2017) to obtain those players.

Every indication points toward Garnett returning for his 20th season, while taking home $12 million for his work in 2014-15. But it remains to be seen whether Pierce, who provided leadership, tenacious defense and the occasional offensive outburst, will join his longtime teammate in Brooklyn or go elsewhere.

The Nets did lose $144 million in basketball-related activities last season, as Grantland reported. Most of that was attributed to luxury taxes; Brooklyn is going to be handing over a check to the league for a record of nearly $92 million.

Maybe it’s just posturing. Still, with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez rehabbing from surgeries and Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko and Garnett all getting a year older, now isn’t the time to give Pierce another reason to walk.

Even with the unfortunate departure of Shaun Livingston, this team should have plenty of depth behind its core group. Mason Plumlee (24) and Markel Brown (22) will provide much-needed athleticism, while Mirza Teletovic (27) will be asked to space the floor once again. Throw mini midlevel exception target Bojan Bogdanovic (25) into the mix, and you’re talking about the beginnings of a quality youth movement.

Still, this team is built on veterans, and Pierce -- even if he might not have much left in the tank entering his age-37 campaign -- needs to be one of them. That’s not to say the Nets should have to pay him the $15.3 million he made last season. But they need to give him enough so he’s not tempted to depart for greener pastures elsewhere.

That’s their advantage: money. And they need to use it. Ever since owner Mikhail Prokhorov has taken over, they have. There’s no reason to stop now.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King described the Jason Kidd-Nets divorce as a “speed bump.”

The Nets are hoping it doesn’t become a road block when it comes to getting Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to return to the franchise for a second season.

Pierce became a free agent at midnight Tuesday and the Nets want to re-sign the veteran forward, who has drawn interest from several teams, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. Garnett has one season at $12 million remaining on his contract, but he could change his mind about returning and opt to retire or possibly seek a trade. All indications had been that Garnett was planning to return for a 20th season, but it remains to be seen how Kidd’s departure impacts Pierce's and Garnett’s plans.

When asked during an interview on WFAN radio if he has confidence that Pierce wants to play another year or two in Brooklyn, King replied, "Yes."

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce and Kevin Garnett
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesWill Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett return to the Nets next season?
King had lunch with Pierce a few weeks ago and got a positive impression from the free agent about his thoughts on the outlook of the organization and living in New York. The GM has also been in regular contact with Garnett’s side.

"We talked about his free agency, his family, the season, looking at the big picture of everything,” King said of Pierce on Tuesday morning during a press conference to discuss Kidd's departure. “Mainly, it was more just talking about his thoughts on the season. There were a lot of positives. I don’t think he just said, OK, the one thing was over is Jason, that is why I came here. I think he looked [at] a lot of it from family life and everything like that. So you continue to talk to them.”

“Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, where they are in their careers, they are going to look [and say], OK, do I have a chance to win," King added. "Maybe it is not to win a championship, but maybe, once you get into the playoffs, everybody has got a chance. So that is what I think they are going to look at, what’s the best place and best opportunity for me to continue to win.”

The Nets own Pierce’s Bird rights, so they can pay him more than any other team. Sources have said that the Nets ideally would like to sign Pierce to a short-term contract starting from $6-8 million per year. Pierce, who made $15.3 million last season, has received interest from the Clippers, Blazers, Grizzlies, Bulls, Mavericks and Rockets, according to Stein.

“The market is gonna determine itself,” King said. “There’s some guys, you’re like, this is what the market’s gonna be, and they go higher. Some agents don’t know, so the next couple days I’ll have an idea of where it’s gonna be.

Regarding free agent Shaun Livingston, the Nets' starter at shooting guard, King said, "It’s gonna be difficult, I do know that. Paul, we do have Bird rights, but we’re not gonna go crazy. But we understand the value that he has for us and the impact, and we’d like him back.”

Pierce has said he believes he has one to two seasons of high-level basketball left in him and wants to play for a championship. It remains to be seen how he views the Nets’ situation now, not only given Kidd’s departure but also in terms of the stability and direction of the organization and the team’s prospects for the immediate future.

The Nets want to keep the core of their team together as much as possible but are bracing for the fact that they could lose Livingston, a pivotal starter, in free agency. The Nets can pay Livingston only the $3.2 million midlevel exception, and sources believe Livingston will command more than that after a breakout season.

Also, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are coming off surgeries and the Nets might not have their two young stars at full strength for some time. Add a new coach and a new system to learn, and the Nets can use Pierce's and Garnett’s leadership to help keep things together for the new coach at the start of the season.

Former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins is the front-runner at the moment in the Nets’ search for a coach.

“I have kept [Pierce] abreast of at this point who we are talking to,” King said. “I won’t say, OK, if I hire this guy, are you coming back, because it still comes down to dollars and cents for Paul, as well."

The Nets made a blockbuster trade that included sending three first-round picks to Boston to land Pierce and Garnett last summer. Kidd played a role in convincing the two to accept the deal and for Garnett to waive his no-trade clause.

The two were vocal about their support for Kidd during his first season as a head coach, and their support was a major reason why the Nets' ownership decided not to make a coaching change in December when the team was in the midst of a tumultuous 10-21 start.

Kidd is gone now after asking for and not receiving additional control over basketball decisions and later receiving permission to talk to the Bucks. While the Nets need a new coach, they are maintaining the same approach, which is to keep trying to win now. King just hopes he will have Pierce and Garnett around this season to make another run.

“At the end of the day, players have to look and evaluate what's best for them,” King said. “I don’t think any of them just decide, OK, I am only coming back if this is in place. They look at, do I have a chance to win?

“We know where we want to go, what we want to do. I think when we went through this trade, we talked about it being a two-year window. So this is the second year of the window.”

Stein: Teams chasing Pierce, Livingston

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
10:12
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The Brooklyn Nets may be able to pay Paul Pierce more than any other team, but they’re already facing some stiff competition to retain his services.

Shortly after the NBA free agency period began at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein tweeted the following:



The Nets have Pierce’s Bird rights, which allows them to pay more than any other team.

Sources told ESPNNewYork.com that Brooklyn would like to sign him to a short-term contract worth from $6 miilion to $8 million per season.

It’s understandable that the Clippers would be an attractive situation for Pierce. The 36-year-old forward would have a chance to reunite with his former coach, Doc Rivers.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are also in the prime of their careers, and Los Angeles will definitely continue to contend in the Western Conference.

As for Shaun Livingston, Stein tweeted:



The organization has already been bracing for Livingston’s likely departure. And that was before the stunning turn of events with Kidd.

The Nets can offer Livingston at most a three-year, $10 million contract -- their entire taxpayer’s mini midlevel exception.

All the teams Stein mentioned can offer more.

5 things to know about Nets free agency

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
12:01
AM ET
The Brooklyn Nets head into the free agency period starting Tuesday. Here’s a quick primer along with five things to look out for:

Nets under contract: The Nets have nine players under guaranteed contracts totaling $88.5 million (see the chart on the right for a complete breakdown).

Non-guaranteed contract: Jorge Gutierrez ($816,000)

Draft rights: Markel Brown (second-round); Xavier Thames (second-round); Cory Jefferson (second-round)

Rights held: Bojan Bogdanovic (overseas); Ilkan Karaman (overseas)

Unrestricted free agents: Paul Pierce (Bird Rights); Shaun Livingston; Andray Blatche (Early Bird Rights); Alan Anderson; Jason Collins

Exceptions available: Taxpayer’s mini midlevel (starting at $3.3 million), veteran’s minimum deals.

Can the Nets retain Paul Pierce?

Before this whole Jason Kidd fiasco, the prevailing feeling around the organization seemed optimistic that, yes, they would retain Pierce. Now, it’s more uncertain. Pierce became a huge piece of Brooklyn’s turnaround last season. He brought leadership, the occasional offensive outburst, surprisingly strong defense and big-play ability as a stretch-power forward. It’s unknown how much Pierce has left in the tank, but regardless, the Nets would be smart to overpay him if they have to; a two-year deal worth around $20 million might suffice. He made $15 million last season. Pierce could be enticed by reuniting with his former coach, Doc Rivers, in Los Angeles or going back to Boston, though, at age 36, the idea of playing for a rebuilding team might be unappealing. Kevin Garnett is all but expected to return, though perhaps that could change as well.

Can the Nets retain Shaun Livingston?

Highly doubtful. The organization was already bracing itself for Livingston’s departure. And that was before the Kidd story broke. Livingston had a career year in 2013-14, and as a result is primed to cash in on the open market. The Nets can offer Pierce more money than any other team because they own his Bird Rights. That isn’t the case with Livingston. Brooklyn can only offer him at most the entire taxpayer’s mini midlevel exception -- or three years and just north of $10 million. Kidd was instrumental in bringing Livingston aboard. The Nets are going to have to replace him, which, because of their cap constraints, is basically impossible. Kidd, Pierce and Livingston all share the same agent: Jeff Schwartz.

Will Deron Williams or Brook Lopez be traded?

Probably not. But that doesn’t mean Nets GM Billy King shouldn’t gauge the trade market to see what both players could fetch in a deal. Williams and Lopez are both coming off surgery and owed a hefty chunk of change, so their trade values are clearly much lower than they once were. Lopez, 26, probably has more value. There are questions as to how he’ll fit in Kidd’s system. Williams has been plagued by injuries throughout his tenure with the Nets. At the end of the day, Brooklyn will probably end up holding on to both players and hoping they get healthy and return to All-Star form.

Will Marcus Thornton’s expiring contract be shopped?

You would think so. The Nets don’t have many assets, but Thornton’s $8.6 million expiring is one of them. They could look to package Thornton and the rights to Bogdanovic in order to fill other needs, such as obtaining Livingston’s replacement or adding a big man who can rebound. If the Nets keep him, Thornton will probably continue in his role as a spark-plug scoring option off the bench.

Who is going to coach this team?

Seems like it’s going to be a veteran such as Lionel Hollins, George Karl or Mark Jackson at this point. But the Nets did hire Kidd, so they’re more than capable of doing something outside the box. Brooklyn has shown interest in Jeff Van Gundy before. Ettore Messina, the former CSKA Moscow coach, is rumored to be a candidate as well. It would certainly behoove the Nets to get a coach in place as quickly as possible, but they also want to do their due diligence before making a move.
On the eve of free agency, the Brooklyn Nets and Jason Kidd were embroiled in a messy divorce.

Kidd is now gone to coach the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets are left to pick up the pieces and figure out who their new coach will be.

This latest Nets soap opera is crazy even by the franchise’s zany standards. Brooklyn’s offseason is off to a tumultuous start but sources say the Nets’ free agency plans remain unaltered despite the Kidd debacle.

Despite needing a new coach, the Nets still plan on doing what they can to re-sign Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston. However, this kind of controversy is the last thing Brooklyn needed heading into July 1 when Pierce and Livingston hit the open market.

The Nets would probably be wise to take their time in picking their next coach. But convincing a winner like Pierce to re-sign with the Nets coming off the Kidd divorce and potentially with no head coach in place by the time he decides appears to be a shaky proposition.

That is why these next few weeks, and the next couple of moves the Nets make, are so pivotal for the franchise. Although their split with Kidd is messy, the rest of the Nets’ summer doesn’t have to be.

It’s absolutely imperative that the Nets find a way to convince Pierce to return. The Nets want to remain competitive this season and they are hopeful that Livingston can be re-signed. But numerous sources believe the starting point guard will command a starting salary of more than the max of the $3.3 million the Nets can offer Livingston per season for three years.

So the Nets really cannot allow Pierce to leave. Think about it. Brooklyn surrendered an arsenal of first-round picks (3) in exchange for Pierce and Kevin Garnett last summer. The Nets sacrificed developing young talent and their future for winning now with Pierce and Garnett. That’s why GM Billy King has to make sure Pierce doesn’t end up being a one-year rental.

If Garnett returns for his final season, would you want him back as a part-time player without Pierce there as well? An unhappy Garnett is the last thing the Nets need. Pierce may not have a ton left in the tank either but he can be the glue the Nets need to hold things together at a tenuous time.

The Nets will help their chances by hiring the right coach. Sources have said that Lionel Hollins, Mark Jackson and George Karl are on the team’s radar as possible successors for Kidd. The Nets might also see what’s available in the college ranks but luring away a Billy Donovan or Kevin Ollie is often a difficult and pricey prospect that the Nets may not want to deal with.

In an ideal world, the Nets would be able to hire a coach soon and have that coach talk to Pierce and Garnett about his plans and views before Pierce decides where to play. Having those two on board behind a new coach would make everything smoother.

Mark Jackson best fits the mold of a coach who could command the respect of Pierce and Garnett, having played against the two like Kidd did. But like Kidd, the brash Jackson is also strong-willed and a staunch Kidd supporter. He had the loyalty of the Warriors' locker room by all indications but had his own messy split with Warriors management which could be a deterrent for the Nets.

Nets ownership certainly likes making bold splashy moves like hiring Kidd a year ago. So perhaps they look out of the box. If Jackson could get an interview, he has the personality and charisma to dazzle. But the Nets may find a safer choice such as Hollins more appealing.

The Nets need a leader. They need stability. That’s why now that Kidd is gone, they can’t afford losing Pierce and Garnett too. All indications have long pointed toward a Garnett return and that might remain unchanged despite the recent Kidd development. But does KG, who will make $12 million in his final season under contract, still want to return for a 20th season now that the coach who helped convince him to waive his no-trade clause last summer is gone? My guess is he still will but Garnett and Pierce can’t be thrilled with the Kidd blowup no matter who is to blame for the simple fact that the Nets look far from a model of a stable winning organization at the moment.

The franchise and ownership feels wronged by Kidd’s decision to ask for more basketball control. Kidd has yet to explain his reasoning. Last season, the two former Celtics repeatedly voiced their loyalty and support for the then-rookie coach and that played a major role in Russian ownership sticking with Kidd in late December when multiple sources said King and management suggested making a coaching change. Three sources said that when the Nets were in the midst of a 10-21 start that also saw the demotion of lead assistant Lawrence Frank, many were understandably on edge and the relationship between King and Kidd became strained.

Still, the Nets turned their season around with Pierce playing a big role in the turnaround with his move to power forward after Brook Lopez was lost for the season.

League sources say the Nets, in a perfect world, would like to secure Pierce to a short-term contract starting at $6-to-$8 million a season. They own his Bird rights so they can offer him more than anybody else. If Pierce, who shares the same agent (Jeff Schwartz) with Kidd and made $15.3 million this past season, is turned off by the recent developments and wants to find his way to a reunion with Doc Rivers with the Clippers, the Nets should give him enough financial reason to return.

If the Nets don’t have Pierce’s leadership this coming season, this season could start off even worse than last season’s Cyclone roller coaster-like start.

They have to adapt to a new coach, a new staff and a new system again. Deron Williams and Lopez are both coming off surgeries and the franchise will have to take it very slow with them in training camp and at the start of the season.

If the 38-year-old Garnett returns, he and Lopez will be on a minutes and likely games restriction. Livingston likely won’t be back and Andray Blatche and Alan Anderson also could sign elsewhere. ESPN.com sources reported that the Nets recently revisited trade talks from last season with the Cavaliers involving Jarrett Jack as a contingency plan for Livingston. But sources say Cleveland has put that deal for Marcus Thornton on the backburner. So the Nets may have to find another point guard.

Much of the team’s star core will be either making its way back from surgery or be a year older and slower.

That’s why the Nets need Pierce’s leadership even more to help keep things together.

Kidd is gone. The Nets need to make sure Pierce doesn’t leave too.

LeBron is free, but Nets eye 2016-17

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
2:20
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LeBron James' opting out and becoming a free agent has many teams dreaming of landing the best player on the planet.

For the Brooklyn Nets, it certainly would be a fantasy for many reasons.

James
James
For starters, the Nets' cap situation is so overloaded that they would have to find a way to clear a ton of space. Their two youngest and best trading chips -- Deron Williams and Brook Lopez -- are each coming off surgeries and either a disappointing or a shortened season. The Nets will certainly explore all options to improve this summer. But trading one, if not both, will be awfully difficult.

Williams will make $19.7 million next season, and Lopez is set to earn $15.7 million. And then there’s Joe Johnson, who will make $23.1 million in 2014-15.

All indications are that Kevin Garnett will return for his final season under contract worth $12 million. So while the Nets can still re-sign Paul Pierce and pay him more than any other team because they own his Bird rights, you get the point of any hope for LeBron being a fantasy.

The Nets would have to find a taker, or takers, for some of their unsavory contracts, while taking nothing back in return contractwise to clear cap space. And LeBron isn’t interested in carrying a team. He would want to go to a situation that is built to win it all now with help from other stars and the ability to contend for the next several seasons.

Going to a Chicago or Houston or staying in Miami certainly appears more attractive than coming to the Nets and teaming up with Williams or Lopez coming off surgery.

So what about next season? What if James were to sign a one-year deal with the Heat and then become a free agent next summer? The Nets would basically have to sign minimum guys this summer and likely let Shaun Livingston and Pierce walk in free agency.

The Nets would be an average team at best if that were the case and with no guarantees of landing James next summer. Their goal is to remain competitive and try to keep their diminishing window of contention open as long as they can. Bringing back Pierce and having Garnett return at least gives them two years out of last summer’s blockbuster trade.

The Nets will look to try to add onto what they have, if at all possible, rather than subtract and hope to land a big free agent next summer.

Brooklyn has its eyes focused on further down the road -- for 2016-17 when Kevin Durant becomes a free agent and the Nets are expected to have salary cap freedom and space.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8