Celtics Question of the Day: Will this be Pierce's last season in Boston?

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Celtics Question of the Day: Will this be Pierce's last season in Boston?

Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Pinky and the Brain.

It's hard to imagine one without the other.

But in the case of Pierce, there is the possibility however remote it may seem, that this could be his final season with the Celtics.

The C's hold an option on the final year of Pierce's contract that's worth 15.3 million. If Boston decides to pick that up this summer, the captain's back for the 2013-2014 season.

But as Pierce told the Boston Globe this summer, he still may test the free agent waters after his contract with the C's expire.

"I want to see what it feels like to be a free agent for once in my life," Pierce said. "I think I am going to play this one out. A lot can change in two years."

He's right. One thing that's unlikely to change is the uniform that Pierce has worn throughout his entire NBA career. But in case Pierce does in fact leave, the Celtics have already taken steps to buffer the blow with the signing of Jeff Green to a four-year, 36 million contract.

While Pierce's future will certainly be among the story lines to follow this season, it's hard to imagine him suiting up for any team other than the C's.

Then again, they said the same about NFL quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis (now in Denver) and NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone in Utah (finished his career with the Los Angeles Lakers).

But here's the difference.

Manning's departure was fueled by a neck injury and luck -- literally -- in which the Colts wound up with the No. 1 pick and drafted his replacement, Andrew Luck.

As for Malone, he wanted to finish off his career with that elusive NBA title. But just as he came up short with the Utah Jazz, his dream remained out of reach with the Lakers who were defeated by the Detroit Pistons in just five games during the 2004 NBA Finals.

But Pierce (knock on wood) hasn't had any major injuries in recent years, which has allowed him to play at a relatively high level. He already has an NBA title (2008) and was named Finals MVP that year.

And as he proved last season, he still has to be considered one of the game's top players.

He was named to the NBA's All-Star team last year at the age of 34, with Steve Nash (38 at the time) being the only player older than him selected to the team.

With the additions that Boston has made this summer, it will allow the C's to cut down on Pierce's minutes and that should in turn make him an even more efficient scorer and thus continue to be a major impact player.

But is that enough to make him worth more than 15 million moving forward? Tough call, indeed.

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

Bradley, Green and Jackson to miss Celtics' game Tuesday against Wizards

WALTHAM -- The team flight to Washington for tomorrow night's game against the Wizards will be a little lighter than the Celtics would like. 
 
Boston continues to be cautious with Avery Bradley and his right Achilles strain injury. Coach Brad Stevens confirmed that the 6-foot-2 guard won't travel and will sit out for the seventh time in the last eight games. 

Stevens added he didn't anticipate Bradley returning to the court anytime this week, which means he's likely not to return until next week's game against Detroit on Jan. 30. 
 
Bradley won’t be the only Celtic not making the trip for health-related reasons. Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson are both not traveling due to sickness. 
 
However, the Celtics did get a bit of good news on the health front. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller, both having missed games with sickness, will take the trip to D.C. with the rest of their teammates.

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

Super Bowl appearances aren't old hat to all the Patriots

FOXBORO -- It’s old hat to plenty of the Patriot, but certainly not all of them. A whole lot of players who joined the team since 2015 haven’t been to a Super Bowl. That says an awful lot about the personnel department headed by Nick Caserio with Dave Ziegler heading up pro personnel and Monti Ossenfort doing college personnel. 

Two of them -- cornerback Eric Rowe and linebacker Kyle Van Noy -- figured in the two Steelers turnovers in Sunday night’s AFC Championship Game. Both joined the team via in-season trades. 

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So in the afterglow of the Patriots postgame locker room, we asked a few of them what their emotions were upon realizing they were going to the Super Bowl

Eric Rowe (acquired via trade with Eagles, September 6): "It’s been a long road. Everyone has their own journey and how they got here but just for me, it’s been a long road. During OTAs and training camp down in Philadelphia, it was frustrating. I didn’t understand why I was sliding down the depth chart but I just kept my head down and kept working and once I got traded here I had to learn a whole new culture and defense and then I got hurt. Through those ups and downs it’s been all worth it. My parents, my girlfriend, my agent, all through training camp with the Eagles kept telling me, ‘Just keep your head up, there’s always something greater on the other side. Don’t stop working, keep working because you never know when you’ll get your chance and, ‘Boom’ I got traded so that was the way around that obstacle. And now I know what’s on the other side. 

Kyle Van Noy (acquired via trade with Lions, October 26): “I took a lot of heat [in Detroit]. I wasn’t living up to what I was capable of doing, even for myself. I had high expectations and I just wasn’t fitting in right away and it was great to get a fresh start and I’m really blessed to have them trust in me to come in and contribute. I don’t know if you ever get comfortable here. You better learn or they’re gonna pass up on you. I’m just grateful for the opportunity. Eric and I are holding it down for the Utah schools (Rowe went to Utah; Van Noy to BYU). We’re here to represent. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I am truly blessed and the man upstairs is looking out.”

Chris Long (signed in March as free agent): "I honestly didn't know they did the confetti thing after. Because I'm usually at the bar with these games are going on. And maybe it's a little later at night. I've turned it off. I didn't know they did the confetti thing after the AFC Championship. That was a real plus . . . because I love confetti. There's no bad situation where there's confetti. I can't think of one. I certainly feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. I’m on a helluva football team and lucky to be a part of it and we’ve earned the right for one more opportunity. It means something different to everybody. We come from different backgrounds, we come from different teams but we’ve all earned this together. It’s a melting pot in that way."

David Andrews (signed as undrafted free agent, 2015) whose great uncle is former Atlanta coach Dan Reeves: "When the Falcons went [in 1998], my parents couldn't take me, but they went." (Is he still sore about that?) "Not anymore. Not at this moment."

Joe Thuney (drafted in third round in May): "It's just a great opportunity. You've got people like Marty [Bennett] and Chris Long that have played so long and just don't get the opportunity. You just got to take advantage of it, and soak upevery minute, and just prepare as best you can, I think. Just go out there and do the best you can."

Malcolm Mitchell (drafted in fourth round in May): "I have no idea [what to expect]. I'm pretty sure I'll be debriefed. And guys will tell me everything I need to know walking into it."

Jabaal Sheard (signed as free agent, 2015): “Great feeling. Unreal. Just an awesome feeling. We gotta get this ring, man and go finish this thing off. It’s exciting, obviously. I’ve heard the stories from the guys who’ve been here. It’s huge. We have to go out there and take care of business.” 

Phil Perry contributed to this report.