Kevin Aherne (@KAherne17)
He's nearly 37-years old, his point-per-game scoring has decreased in each of the last three seasons, and he made more than $15 million this year; but Paul Pierce could prove be the missing piece to the Celtics' rebuild machine.
In his first--and likely only--season in Brooklyn, Pierce put up consistent and solid numbers on a competitive playoff team. He averaged 13.5 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, and got to the free throw line more times than anybody on the Nets. More importantly, Pierce was durable, playing in 77 games, with 64 starts.
This season was no anomaly either. Across the past six seasons, Pierce has appeared in an 75 regular season games on average. On top of that, Pierce has been on playoff teams in each of those seasons, appearing in 121 (of 121) post-season games over the span.
Most importantly, Pierce, no longer capable of playing at a superstar level, now has a season as a supporting cast member under his belt.
Out with the old?
While is it clearly in the Celtics' best interest to look towards youth, veteran leadership, which is currently lacking, will essential to Boston's rebuilding efforts. Rondo is an elite point guard, but certainly no front-man; to date, Jeff Green has done little to establish himself as a clubhouse leader; and both Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley are too "green" to have yet earned the respect of their peers. The presence of an experienced leader will be vital to the development of this team.
Paul Pierce can be that leader.
With 15 seasons (14 in Boston) under his belt, Pierce offers his next squad values in both form and function. He can score in bunches, get to the line, and actually play effective defense. His true value, however, is dependent on his willingness to take on a mentoring relationship with the next generation of swing position players.
Through a series of deals, the Celtics now hold the rights to six first round picks over the next three seasons. Though they seem likely to address the lack of front court depth with the first of those selections, they will certainly be shopping for their next-generation star in the next few drafts. With an inexperienced coach, and journeyman Gerald Wallace as the team's de facto leader, guidance of Paul Pierce would mean a whole lot to the future of the Celtics.
So, Danny, Wyc, and the powers that be--bring back Paul Pierce. It is a win-win-win. The fans benefit from seeing their team in transition under its old captain; the team benefits from his experience and leadership; and Pierce gets the opportunity to close out his illustrious career where it began, while passing the torch to the next era of greatness.
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