NBA Free Agency officially started yesterday with plenty of breaking news and moves. The Washington Wizards were reportedly interested in a few players, but the first priority was future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce. The Wizards publically felt confident that the veteran would return to the team after opting out, but he ultimately decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. The three year deal will reunite Pierce with his former coach Doc Rivers and allow him to finish his career in his hometown.
Many fans wanted Pierce to return to the Wizards, but they shouldn’t be mad at him. They should appreciate what he brought to the team, even if it was just for a year. From day one, Pierce brought an attitude and toughness to the team. Something that had been improving, but wasn’t quite there yet. Pierce wasted no time in doing so by getting involved in a preseason scuffle with Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls. It was nothing too extreme, but it let people know that the team was there and they were not backing down from anyone. Pierce had game experience to share, as well as ways to conduct business off the court. He was the perfect player to keep the younger guys grounded and focused on the big picture. Pierce knew what to do and say to grab the attention of his teammates. And then there is “I called game”. We were provided with clutch moments and shots, but none could top his step back to beat Toronto in Game 3 of the playoffs. The team’s goals were stopped short, as Atlanta won the series, but Pierce’s mark was left. Now it’s up to the guys to keep it going. John Wall and Bradley Beal are one of the top backcourts in the league and Otto Porter should be ready to continue his playoff success and to capitalize off of extended minutes. There are questions on how to address the power forward position with Nene coming into the last year of his contract, but the sky isn’t falling. Wall has seemed to accept the challenge as the franchise player and leader. His presence on the court and production in box scores keep getting better and better. Something the Wizards hoped for when they selected him 1st in the 2010 Draft.
The good news is that Pierce left right away. This didn’t drag out and he didn’t visit with numerous teams. There are still some options available for the Wizards to bring in a player that can fill some of the void. The front office would have to get creative and a little lucky because there isn’t a lot of money to spend, but there is still time. It was only a year, but Washington fans were able to experience the truth from The Truth.