Adam Figman of SlamOnline.com caught up with the Captain and got his thoughts on the trade that brought him to Brooklyn:
SLAM: I imagine the return to Boston will be pretty emotional.
PP: Oh it's definitely gonna be emotional. You spend almost half of your life in Boston, so a lot of emotions are gonna run deep, because of friends and the things you accomplished there. The fans there, the season tickets owners-I know a lot of them. I'll see all those people.
SLAM: Some members of the media have been saying they believe Doc Rivers quit on the Celtics. How do you feel about all that?
PP: Well, I know the insides with everything that's going on. A lot of stuff got blown out of proportion because of the media, but Doc has always said he didn't want to be a part of a rebuilding situation. I've always stated that the past four or five years. After the season, the owners decided they wanted to go in that direction. It made Doc look like he was quitting but at the same time it was mutual-everything was mutual at the end. The trade, Doc leaving. I didn't want to be a part of rebuilding; Kevin didn't want to be a part of rebuilding; Doc didn't want to be part of rebuilding. I think it was all mutual. We've done so much for the franchise that they wanted to help on our end. So Doc went to L.A., and they sent us to Brooklyn for a chance to win a Championship. That's pretty much the way it was. Nothing more, nothing less.
Ultimately, this whole drama hinges on who wanted or suggested the rebuild first: Danny and the owners, Doc, or Pierce and Garnett? As Pierce suggests, that decision came from the top and the dominoes fell from there. However, even if ownership did decide to move in a different direction, it seemed like they gave Doc the opportunity to stay and coach out his contract. When he signed his extension, he stated that the team would eventually need to rebuild and that he'd be happy to stay and be a part of it, but he later admitted that that was an empty promise he had to make in order to attract free agents to Boston. In a Grantland piece, Bill Simmons suggested:
(Doc) truly believes the Celtics didn't want him to come back or pay him all that money as they were rebuilding. I don't buy it, as I told him - I thought that they didn't want to pay him that money once they believed he didn't want to be there.
As Simmons puts it, "it's a he-said, he-said thing.' But then there's the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett of it all. After the NBA nixed any idea that both those guys would join Doc in Clipperland and Billy King offered the world for them (and Jason Terry and D.J. White), we know that it was Pierce that had to call KG to push the trade through. Garnett had the no-trade clause in his contract and it took an hour sweating in the summer heat for Pierce to convince KG of the move.
His comments in the Slam interview leave a little bad taste in my mouth because Pierce has always said that he wanted to retire a Celtic. At the introductory press conference in Brooklyn, he reiterated those sentiments but used that cliched line about this being the business of basketball. He wanted his career to be like Kobe and Duncan. He wanted Danny to stand up for him like Mark Cuban is with Dirk Nowitzki. But in the end, Doc's in LA and Paul & Kevin are Nets. Brad Stevens is our head coach and we've got Rajon Rondo, a talented core four, and nine first round draft picks in the next five years. Pierce made the best of a bad situation. He swallowed his Celtic pride and people may not look at it this way, but he did what was best for the franchise. We'll welcome him back with open arms when he comes home on January 26th and mark my words: Paul Pierce is a Celtic again in 2014.