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 returns to Celtics' lineup for Sunday's game vs. Heat

Bradley returns to Celtics' lineup for Sunday's game vs. Heat

BOSTON -- Avery Bradley, whose flu-like symptoms landed him in the hospital and forced him to miss Friday’s game against Phoenix, tells CSNNE.com that he will play tonight.
 
“I didn’t get [out of the hospital] until [Saturday] evening,” Bradley told CSNNE.com. “My stomach still hurts a little bit, but I’m all right. I’ll be good.”
 
The importance of Bradley to this team cannot be overstated.
 
His ability to make a major impact both as a scorer and an elite defender separates him from not only his teammates but from most guards in the NBA.
 
However, his health has been a season-long issue in some form or another, which can be seen in the fact that he has missed 24 games via injury or illness -- more than any other player on the Celtics roster.
 
When he has played, Bradley has delivered on several fronts.
 
He’s averaging 16.9 points per game while averaging 6.2 rebounds per game - both career highs -- which rank second and third, respectively, on the Celtics roster this season.

Five things to look for from the NFL annual meetings this week

Five things to look for from the NFL annual meetings this week

PHOENIX -- Bill Belichick may not be speaking with the media here this week, but there will be plenty for us to examine at the annual league meetings. 

Reporters were informed via a team spokesperson that the Patriots coach would not be in attendance at the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday morning -- where in the past orange juice has been sipped and tape recorders have been bulldozed -- due to a scouting conflict. 

The breakfast is not mandatory for coaches so for Belichick to use his time at a college pro day (Florida, Texas and Iowa State all have theirs scheduled for Tuesday) or a private workout comes as little surprise. He's been busy on the Trail of Due Diligence in recent weeks, making visits to Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Michigan in order to get a closer look at prospects.

Five weeks behind, remember? No days off. 

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is planning to meet with reporters on Monday so we'll have an opportunity to hear from him on a variety of topics when that comes to pass. 

Here are some of the other Patriots-related stories we'll be doing some digging on this week as we keep you updated with blog posts, occasional television hits, tweets (@PhilAPerry), Instagram shots (@PhilAPerry), and maybe even a podcast or two.

-- What does the rest of the league think when it sees the way the Patriots have attacked this offseason? How will the new pieces fit? Do other coaches and executives see it as Belichick going all in on 2017? Or is this just a case of a team adhering to its motto of doing "what's best for the football team" -- both in the short and long-term?

-- What's next for the Patriots? They're not done building the roster, so where might they turn next? Will they add other lower-level free agents? Will they be looking to trade back into the first and second rounds? Which positions seem to be of interest to them in the draft, and how might that signal the direction this roster is headed?

-- What is the feeling on the future at the quarterback position in New England? We know the Patriots aren't looking to give away Jimmy Garoppolo, but do people around the league really feel as though a haul of draft picks won't get the Patriots to think twice about trading him? Is it possible that in this rare scenario -- where the franchise quarterback is playing at an MVP-level but headed into his 40-year-old season -- people could see the Patriots paying two passers a starter's salary?

-- Will anything happen with Malcolm Butler before the meetings are out? Some have speculated that if his status as a restricted free agent (with an unsigned first-round tender) is to change anytime soon, it could happen here, where presumably his agent will be able to hear offers from one or more clubs in person. Will Butler find a team willing to give him an offer sheet and relinquish its first-round pick to the Patriots? Or will he sign his tender -- whether it's with the intent to play for the Patriots in 2017, or to be traded?

-- Rules changes are coming. We just don't know which ones. Will the linebacker leap (executed by Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin under Belichick) be eliminated? Will Stephen Gostkowski soon be looking to blast kickoffs through the uprights due to the passing of a rule that would place the ball at the 20 as opposed to the 25 for such a feat? Will real-time replay decisions suddenly shift from the officials on the field to the NFL offices at 345 Park Avenue? We'll let you know which proposals are held up, which fall flat, and how the Patriots might be impacted. Belichick and his staff did not submit any proposals for the second consecutive year.