The Nets, who lack financial flexibility, will face the prospects of losing potential free agents Paul Pierce, Andray Blatche, Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, and Andrei Kirilenko. Blatche has already opted out of his deal for next year, and Livingston could make more money elsewhere in a longer contract.
All eyes will be on Paul Pierce, though.
The Nets relinquished three first round draft picks to ascertain both Pierce and Kevin Garnett from the Boston Celtics. While Garnett will reportedly return and eschew retirement, Pierce has the option to leave.
The future Hall of Famer sounded non-committal in the moments following the Nets’ season, but his mind may have changed five times over since that point. Even though the Nets can offer him more because they retain his Bird Rights, money may not be a motivating factor at this late stage in Pierce’s career.
If Pierce believes he has one more year to win a championship, the Los Angeles Clippers might make the most sense for the grizzled veteran. For starters, the Clippers have Doc Rivers. Both Pierce and his former head coach built an impenetrable bond while in Boston, and Pierce hails from the Oakland, CA area and played high school basketball in Inglewood. His former coach and family ties might draw him back to the area.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the potential union will garner mutual interest, especially if Garnett opts to retire.
“If Garnett decides it’s time to stop, Pierce is bound to be intrigued even more by the scenario that is said to be on his radar already: Reuniting with Doc Rivers in Clipperland in what would also be a homecoming for the Los Angeles native.”
In addition, the Clippers, albeit in a tougher Western Conference, boast a better lineup. They have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, two of the best at their respective positions. The Clippers also have one of the league’s best defenders in DeAndre Jordan. With Jamal Crawford coming off the bench at the shooting guard position, the only perceived weakness is at the No. 3 spot. Pierce could easily slot in there in place of Matt Barnes and Jared Dudley. Pierce would also avoid the burden he absorbed with the Nets this season. When Pierce played poorly, the Nets regularly lost.
If Pierce heads to Los Angeles, he may be taking an assistant coach with him. Lawrence Frank, who signed the most lucrative deal ever handed out to an assistant coach, could return to Rivers’ side. The two coached with each other in Boston, which is part of the reason the Nets brought Frank into the fold with Pierce and Garnett coming over in the deal.
Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported that the Clippers “will be looking to hire another assistant coach.”
“Lawrence Frank, who was on Rivers’ staff as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics during the 2010-11 season, is being strongly considered for an assistant’s position with the Clippers, the executives” told Turner.
Frank, who was jettisoned in early December following clashes with head coach Jason Kidd, is still owed 5-years and $5 million as part of his deal.