BOSTON -- For the past 15 years Paul Pierce has been the face of the Boston Celtics organization.
As he walked off the parquet with 27 seconds left in the Celtics Game 6 elimination to the New York Knicks, the captain is unsure about his future with the team.
"That's up to [Celtics President of Basketball Operations] Danny [Ainge] and them," he said. "I have no idea. … I definitely expect to be playing next year."
Pierce's season ended with more questions than answers. He finished the playoffs finale with 14 points off 4-for-18 shooting from the floor (1-for-9 from three-point range), a mere shell of the showstopping performances he has displayed in the past.
The veteran will be 36 by next Opening Night. He has logged over 1,100 regular season games and 136 in the postseason, winning a championship and an NBA Finals MVP in 2008 along the way.
Year after year, Pierce has continued to come back for more -- more battles, more big games, more grueling nights scrapping it out when his body said otherwise. There is something about the game, and the Celtics, that he can't shake.
"You never want the the season to end," he said. "It's tough right now on your home floor, but the fact of the reality is it did. Right now, a lot of emotions, a lot of things go through your head about the season, about what you could have done better tonight to keep the season going, about the future. It's a lot of mixed emotions right now. It's a tough loss, we'd be happy to be playing for Game 7, but unfortunately we didn't get the win tonight."
Late Friday night, CSNNE Celtics sideline reporter Greg Dickerson tweeted that he had talked to someone close to Pierce who was certain Pierce's time in Boston was over.
Dickerson tweeted: "Talked to some close to Paul, they are certain he's played his last game as a Celtic. Their quote, all good things must come to an end."
This season Pierce struggled with a variety of injuries and ailments, and although his performances were inconsistent at times, he put the team on his back when they lost Rajon Rondo (ACL) without thinking twice. This regular season he averaged 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists (the most boards and dimes in the "New Big Three" era), and posted 19.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in the first round against the Knicks.
As much as Pierce will ponder his future, the Celtics organization will do the same. They have an option to buy out Pierce for $5 million, saving more than $10 million.
"What's important to understand, yeah, it's going to be hard for fans and everybody else, but as far as what's doing what's best for the Celtics, it's probably going to be very hard, too," Ainge recently told CSNNE.com. "It's not a no-brainer. It's not like you get a 21-year-old All-Star player, or you get the number one pick in the draft [if you let Pierce go]. Those decisions would not be hard, but I have a feeling the decision is going to be very hard, yeah."
Pierce's postseason performance is not indicative of who he has been over his career. Now he and the Celtics will have to consider who he will be moving forward.
"Who knows what the future [will be]," said Pierce. "I've been here 15 years and I've seen a lot of things changes each and every year. So I'm sure there's going to be a lot of changes here and we'll see what happens."