Paul Pierce will officially become a member of the Washington Wizards in the coming days.
The veteran forward is already an ex-member of the Brooklyn Nets, the team he played for last season after spending the previous 15 with the Boston Celtics. Why is that, exactly?
Mikael Prokorhov apparently cut the budget.
After authorizing one all-in move after another, the Nets owner went down a path of financial restraint. Pierce made $15 million last season. The Wizards signed Pierce to a two-year deal for approximately $11 million overall.
Stefan Bondy from the New York Daily News captured the situation in Brooklyn. The Nets owned Pierce’s Bird rights and were capable of re-signing him but decided against taking on a hefty luxury-tax addition, a source said. That’s a different approach from Prokhorov, who has often declared he would spare no expense in his pursuit of a championship. But the Nets reportedly lost $144 million last season in basketball operations — by far the most in the NBA — and it appears the free-spending days are over.
Brooklyn acquired Pierce and Kevin Garnett during the summer of 2013 at a steep cost which included three first-round picks. The Pierce signing stunned the NBA world in part because most assumed he would either stay with the Nets or land with the Los Angeles Clippers for a reunion with his former coach, Doc Rivers.
The Los Angeles native didn’t go home because the Clippers don’t have the necessary salary cap space.
Such issues essentially don’t impact teams trying to re-sign their own players. That was the case with the Nets and Pierce. Brooklyn doesn’t have a deep array of good options when it comes to replacing the forward who keyed the Nets’ late season surge.
They chose to let Pierce move on anyway. The Wizards are glad they did.