Name: Paul Pierce
Age: 38 (39 in October)
Key Stats: Career-lows in points per game (6.1), shooting percentage (36.3%), rebounds per game (2.7) and minutes per game (18.1). His 31% three-point shooting this season was his second-worst career mark.
Years in NBA: 18, 1 with Clippers.
2015-16 salary: $3,376,000.
Contract status: Signed through 2017-18 at no more than $3.6M per season.
Paul Pierce is an NBA legend and should be a first ballot Basketball Hall-of-Famer one day. That said, it was pretty clear based on his performance this season that he may have stayed in the league one year too long. Pierce averaged career-lows in just about every statistical category in 2015-16 and many would agree what he was LAC's least effective player that received regular minutes.
I suppose the main thing Pierce brings to the table at this stage of his career is some veteran leadership. One would imagine he's a calming presence in the locker room and can help Doc Rivers and the rest of the staff keep things in perspective for some of the younger, less experienced players.
As far as his actual basketballing goes, though, it's tough to pinpoint something this iteration of The Truth does well. He's no longer quick enough to stay in front of perimeter players defensively, but isn't big or strong enough to effectively bang with bigs on the block, either. Pierce was forced to play a ton of power forward this season with Blake Griffin sidelined for so long, and LAC suffered in the rebounding department as a result.
Pierce has never been the most explosive athlete, but he's been able to make up for that as his career has progressed by improving his long-range shooting. That fell off a cliff this year, though, and his inability to capitalize on even the most wide open of looks was a major reason for LAC's offense not running as smoothly as it had over the previous couple of seasons. Here is his shot chart, via NBA.com:
Yup. Looks about right.
Many hoped Pierce would be able to find that extra gear once the playoffs rolled around, but it was never to be. He played just 10 minutes per game in the Clips' first round series against Portland, even drawing a DNP-CD in Game Two.
Future with the Clippers:
Pierce is under contract for each of the next two seasons, but we're surely headed for yet another summer full of retirement murmurs. He reportedly gave strong consideration to hanging them up last season after his tour of duty with the Wizards, but the allure of returning to his hometown to play with his old coach was too strong to resist. Pierce doesn't lack self awareness, though, and it's hard to imagine his own pride allowing him to give it another go for 2016-17. He's reportedly "50-50" on whether to retire, and perhaps the chance of another potential title run could complicate his choice.
If he does decide to return, there's no telling what kind of role he'll actually have. As much as it may have pained him, Doc had to have been well aware that playing Pierce heavy minutes was not an option, particularly over the course of the second half of the season and into the postseason. The Clippers may be able to find a handful of minutes for him if he's able to reestablish his ability to punish opponents as a spot-up shooter, but that's a rather large "if."
Unfortunately, Pierce's inaugural season with the Clips didn't include many memorable moments. We'll always have this from last summer's DeAndre Jordan Twitter saga, though: