Wizards' Pierce can be contributor for title contender

Wizards' Pierce can be contributor for title contender
July 13, 2014, 7:00 pm
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BOSTON — When LeBron James decided to take his talents back to Cleveland, it did more than bolster the Cavaliers' hopes for a title while dealing a major blow to Miami's title-chasing quest.

It opened the door for just about every team in the East, including the Washington Wizards.

So the idea of ex-Celtic great Paul Pierce inking a two-year, $11 million deal with the Wizards shouldn't come as that big a surprise if you give it a moment of thought.

For starters, Washington had to do something when Trevor Ariza decided to take a four-year, $32 million offer from Houston.

Of the small forwards still on the free agent market, Pierce was among the better ones in terms of ability and filling the void left by Ariza.

And then there's Pierce's never-ending desire to play for a team that's among the last teams playing.

When it was clear that the Celtics were no longer a title contender, Boston did right for Pierce and the franchise last summer by moving him to Brooklyn for a bunch of spare part players as well as three unprotected first-round picks (the first of which was used last month to select Kentucky's James Young) while giving Pierce another chance to play for a contender.

Needless to say, last season was a colossal failure for the Nets after struggling most of the season before getting bounced by the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs.

A free agent this summer, league sources say Pierce's desire to win another NBA title are just as strong.

"There's nothing left for him to play for, except championships," the source said. "He's already one of the best to play this game, ever. The only thing he can do to enhance his legacy is to compete for titles and we all know that wasn't going to happen if he went back to Brooklyn."

And of the teams in the East, the Washington Wizards are clearly one of the favorites to get to the NBA Finals, and that was before the addition of Pierce.

But keep in mind, the Wizards aren't getting the all-star-every-year Paul Pierce that the Celtics enjoyed for more than a decade.

Those days are long gone.

But what they are getting is a basketball savvy, professional scorer who gives them another option in close, down-to-the-wire games besides all-star John Wall, soon-to-be all-star Bradley Beal and center Marcin Gortat who signed a five-year, $60 million deal to return.

That, combined with the disappointment of not advancing past the second round of the playoffs last year (they lost to Indiana in six games), gives the Wizards the kind of experience that the addition of Pierce can only enhance.

And at the age of 37 when the season starts, the 16-year veteran having a chance to be a meaningful contributor to a legit title contender ... Pierce couldn't ask for more than that.

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