We addressed the latest buzz about Paul Pierce possibly heading to the Clippers, including reasons why the small forward might indeed look to move West. Though they have two major pieces in point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin, the Clippers, like the Wizards, could use a big time shot maker with confidence for days. This is especially true after blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Houston Rockets in the second round of the playoffs.
However, such a scenario isn't a slam dunk, especially financially. Los Angeles's top priority is free agent center DeAndre Jordan. Keep the shot blocker and salary cap room becomes an issue. Dan Woike with the OC Register examined the idea from the Clippers' end:
Assuming the Clippers re-sign DeAndre Jordan this summer, the team won't have a lot of options to add quality pieces.
If Pierce opts out, the Clippers could offer him the tax payer’s exception for $3.7 million – the biggest salary they can offer a free agent who isn’t already on their roster.
Pierce also could opt in to his deal and the Clippers could try to acquire him from the Wizards.
However, the best-case scenario from the Clipper would involve Pierce signing for the veteran’s minimum, allowing the Clippers to address other needs with the $3.7 million exception. In this scenario, Pierce would make a shade under $1.5 million next year, a sizable pay cut from this season with the Wizards, where he averaged 11.9 points per game.
The Clippers wanted Pierce last season, but chose to use their mid-level exception on center Spencer Hawes, leaving them short financially. The Wizards swooped in and signed Pierce to a two-year, $11 million contract, far more than what the Clippers had available. He is slated to make $5.5 million in 2015-16 if he stays in Washington.
While the future Hall of Famer averaged 14.6 points in the postseason and made one dramatic shot after another - whether they counted or not -, Hawes rarely got off the bench even though Los Angeles struggled with production from its second unit.
Pierce previously won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics under coach Doc Rivers, who holds the same position with the Clippers. If the lure of winning another ring with Rivers and doing so in his hometown drives the Los Angeles native above all, Pierce could go. Would he leave money on the table is a question.
As for a trade, the Clippers do not have a first round pick in 2015.