It was once thought that Paul Pierce would retire a Boston Celtic. Pierce has worn the green and white jersey since 1998 when the team took him in the first round of the NBA draft. It looked like his career would start and finish with the same team. However, the Celtics are at a crossroads with what to do with the future of the team. As the roster gets older, franchise players could be on their way out.
Conflicting reports have come out over the future Pierce. He is currently under contract with the team and is set to be owed $15 million from the team in the coming season. However, Pierce is not exactly young and as the Celtics look to improve, they might be unwilling to give him that salary. Multiple sources are reporting that Pierce's contract would be bought out for $5 million by June 30.
On the other side, Rick Levine from CSN New England is reporting that two team sources are waving off the buyout reports. Instead of buying out Pierces final year on his contract, they will use him as trade bait to other teams. The Celtics know there will be takers on a quality forward and they could get a lot for Pierce now.
2012 was a rollercoaster year for the Celtics. For the first time since assembling their own big three of Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, they did not win a playoff series. As the team ages and dismantles, Boston might be willing to tear things down and rebuild.
Allen is already gone and playing to win a championship in Miami. Garnett is mulling retirement and if Pierce leaves, Garnett is almost certain to be gone as well. Point guard Rajon Rondo is recovering from tearing his ACL late in the regular season. When he comes back healthy, the team can pair him with Jeff Green and build the team around the talented youth.
Boston has some time to figure out Pierce's future. They will likely shop around and see what teams are willing to give up for the veteran. It was once rumored that Pierce was a piece in a three-way trade involving Josh Smith and the Dallas Mavericks. That trade failed to happen prior to the trade deadline during the season, but could be revisited now that teams have time in the offseason.
At the moment, all signs point to Pierce not finishing out his career in Boston. The team is ready to get younger and Pierce just does not fit the mold anymore.