According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Paul Pierce is still undecided on his retirement plans, but will make an announcement at some point during the coming weeks. Pierce came off of the worst season of his career, and a comeback year would be very tough for a guy turning 39 during training camp. Two seasons ago, for the Wizards, Pierce was a slowed-down version of himself, failing to compete consistently on defense or display a lot of athleticism, but still lethal from behind the arc and in the clutch. For the Clippers this year, his shot left him as well, as he hit just 31% from deep and had some really ugly bricks.
Pierce's legacy as an NBA Hall-of-Famer was cemented well before he joined the Clippers, and his failures in 2016 shouldn't do anything to dilute his career's body of work. However, it appears that even Pierce himself knows that if he is to continue in the league, he will have to accept his new limitations: "I thought I had one more good year [this past season], but obviously I didn't like how it went with my role", Pierce told Washburn. "I'm still just trying to figure it out. A lot has got to do with the role I'm going to play. To come back and sit 82 games, I don't know if I can do that."
For what it's worth, Pierce started 38 games and played 18 minutes a night for the Clippers, a shockingly high number for a player as unproductive as he was--and a number artificially inflated by Blake Griffin's extended absence at the power forward position and Doc Rivers' unwavering trust in his old friend. His role lessened near the end of the season, as the Clippers brought in Jeff Green, but that was after Pierce had gotten plenty of opportunities to earn minutes and fallen short. Paul Pierce's role would have been much smaller last year if Blake Griffin had stayed healthy (maybe 12-16 minutes a night, and no starts), and that was before we knew that his shot had left him. Now, it seems likely that if he were to return, he'd have to either be on the periphery of the Clippers' 10-man rotation, or on the outside of it.
Pierce has about two years and $7 million remaining on his contract with the Clippers, but he can walk away from the game, and that money, at any time. His salary would come off of the books for the Clippers were he to retire. Playing out this contract would give Pierce a chance to eclipse $200 million in career earnings, but he told Washburn that if he does return, this coming year will be his last.
Paul Pierce has done a lot in his time in the NBA, and he's a hometown hero from Inglewood High School--but it's clear that at this point, it would be best for the Clippers if he retired, leaving them with another roster spot and $3.5 million in wiggle room under the tax line (and potential hard cap). We'll stay on top of further updates as they come.