Paul Pierce “50-50” On Retirement As 18th Season Ends
LOS ANGELES – Paul Pierce, even after 18 years in the league, wasn’t immune after Game 6 from the tears and emotions that can happen after a season ends abruptly.
Now that it has, he’s not going to rush to a decision on whether or not this was his last run.
“Right now, it’s 50-50,” Pierce said. “I don’t want to make an emotional decision.”
Pierce has two years and roughly $7 million left on his deal, but he knew when he came back home to Los Angeles any year could be his last.
The former NBA champion and 10-time All-Star forward is 38 years old and will be 39 before the start of next season. This last season with the Clippers was the first time he averaged single digits in scoring in his career and the first time he played fewer than 20 minutes per game.
“We’ll see how I feel when I wake up,” Pierce said, figuratively speaking following the Game 6 loss. “If I don’t feel that feel, that fire’s not there, then it’s going to be tough (to keep playing).”
Whatever Pierce decides, head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t want to play much of a role in the choice.
Pierce has now spent a decade of his life playing for Rivers, with nine years together in Boston and now another in Los Angeles, but Rivers said that decision is too personal to get involved in.
“That’s a decision that Paul’s going to have to make,” Rivers said. “He’ll ask, and I’ll give him what I think and very little of that, because I think players, as far as thinking about retirement, have to come to that conclusion – even though I’m more than a coach to him.”
Rivers said he wouldn’t ever want Pierce to be sitting at home regretting whatever choice he made.
“I think that’s a hard one,” Rivers said.
So, Pierce will take his time and try to figure it out.
Pierce has said he’s debated after each of the past few seasons whether he’d continue to keep playing, and it’s a choice that never gets easier.
“Every heartbreak makes you want to come back,” Pierce said. “That’s the competitive nature of a player. That’s the competitive nature of me.”
And, that’s why the Inglewood native has plenty to consider.
“I think the whole key is where he wants to be health-wise and how did he feel through the season,” Rivers said. “I can’t figure that one out.”