LAS VEGAS -- Paul Pierce isn't coming to the Wizards to replace Otto Porter. His presence is meant to enhance the rising second-year small forward, who is in line to get a significant bump in minutes and his role for the 2014-15 season.
"When I heard I said, 'Wow, that's a veteran guy,'" Porter said Sunday, the day after Trevor Ariza agreed to terms with the Houston Rockets and was replaced by Pierce, 36. "That's a winner, too. He knows how to win playoff games. He's been there and done this."
Pierce won an NBA championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics. He spent last season with the Brooklyn Nets, where he averaged a career-low 28 minutes per game with All-Star Joe Johnson being the primary perimeter scorer. Pierce, however, still averaged almost 14 points per game.
Porter averaged just 8.6 minutes as a rookie, 2.1 points and didn't appear in 45 games. He'll likely average close to 20 minutes this time, if not more in the early going because of Martell Webster's back surgery that has him out at least until December.
Like Ariza did for Porter when he was here as a defensive specialist, Pierce can be the same type of mentor but with a different skill-set because he's a scorer. The usually bashful Porter didn't shy away when asked if he wanted to be the starter on Saturday, before a deal was struck with Pierce for two years and $11 million. With Pierce here, Porter will be OK with whatever his role turns out to be because eventually it will be his. The tutelage he will get is second to none.
"I'm going to do what I can to get out there and help my team. No question with Paul Pierce coming, he is going to be one of our leaders," said Porter. "So I expect to learn a lot from him."
After their second victory in a row Sunday, Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell spoke glowingly about Pierce and what he could mean for Porter's development: "It's a blessing in disguise to have a guy like Paul Pierce coming to this team, especially for Otto. It's a blessing. To have that kind of leadership, that kind of experience to come to your team, he's going to uplift this whole ballclub. It was big that we got him. Huge rather. Just in that locker room, he's been captain of the Celtics for 13, 14 years. That's not too easy to get. He had it for a long, long time. He won a championship. Kevin (Garnett) wasn't a captain. Ray (Allen) wasn't a captain. Paul Pierce was the captain of the team. That was big. We know it."