If LeBron James choosing to leave Miami and return to Cleveland was the biggest surprise of NBA free agency, this has to be a close second.
Paul Pierce is reportedly set to join the Washington Wizards.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Paul Pierce is on the verge of joining the Washington Wizards in a free-agent deal, ESPN has learned
ESPN has learned that Pierce will sign a two-year deal with the Wizards at the mid-level exception with a player option entering Year 2
This is a stunning development — not necessarily because Pierce was so attached to being in Brooklyn, but after playing the first 15 years of his career with the Boston Celtics, he’ll now be joining his second team in as many seasons.
It’s also a sign that a very expensive gamble by the Nets to become immediately relevant by trading for Pierce and Kevin Garnett failed pretty miserably, especially when considering the overall cost. Brooklyn is hamstrung in terms of its ability to rebuild traditionally because of the three first round draft picks (2014, 2016 and 2018) it gave up to complete the deal, along with giving Boston the right to swap first round picks with the Nets in 2017.
Pierce’s numbers dipped significantly with the Nets, due to a combination of playing less minutes and having a reduction in responsibility with Joe Johnson taking on the role of the team’s primary offensive option. He averaged 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 28 minutes per contest, and started in 68 of his 75 regular season appearances.
The Nets reportedly had the opportunity to re-sign Pierce, but passed in part due to the fact that his deal would have cost the team north of $20 million in luxury taxes, reports Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.
-- Brett Pollakoff, NBC's Pro Basketball Talk