Paul Pierce should retire as a member of the Boston Celtics.
That’s a sentiment shared by many fans here in New England, but his current coach seems to agree. Speaking on an episode of The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski, Doc Rivers revealed that if Pierce does indeed decide to call it a career, he would allow the Celtics legend to sign a one-day contract with the franchise that drafted him so that he could retire in green.
“If Paul decides to retire then we’re going to make sure that Boston picks him up for one day and he retires a Celtic because that’s what he should retire as,” said Rivers. “So we have all that in place. We just don’t know what he’s going to do.”
Pierce spent the first 15 years of his career in Boston before the Celtics shipped him to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster trade in 2013. While the Celtics are still reaping the benefits of a deal that looks like highway robbery in retrospect, fans still can’t help but feel a tinge of regret over letting go of a franchise icon.
The future of the 18-year veteran remains cloudy. He is under contract with the Los Angeles Clippers for two more seasons after agreeing to a three-year deal last summer, but there have been conflicting reports regarding whether he intends to play out the rest of that contract or ride off into the sunset.
“I think Paul’s going back and forth on it, and I want to give him room,” said Rivers. “I think he deserves it. From a team perspective you would love that he made his decision eight weeks ago. I think there are certain guys that you just have to give time to, and Paul’s one of them.”
During his time in Boston, Pierce won a championship in 2008 alongside coach Rivers. Last year the pair reunited with the Clippers, where Rivers now serves as both coach and president of basketball operations. That makes it within his power to allow Pierce to return to Boston. Not to play, of course, as he certainly doesn’t want to have to face him again. However, if Pierce decides his playing days are over, Rivers could let him go in order to receive the sendoff in Boston he deserves.
This summer the NBA has waved good-bye to Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, while Kevin Garnett continues to toy with the idea of retirement. With so many superstars of his era stepping away, perhaps Pierce will take this as a sign that his time has also come. Rivers called it the greatest retirement summer in NBA history, which would only be enhanced by adding Pierce’s name to the list of legends to end their careers this year.
Earlier this week we saw Amar’e Stoudemire announce his retirement after signing a one-day deal with the New York Knicks. He had spent each of the previous two seasons with different franchises—Dallas and then Miami—but felt that going out as a member of the Knicks was the right thing to do (sorry, Suns fans). Pierce could potentially follow in similar fashion, ending his career with the franchise he is most commonly associated with.
At this point we still don’t know if Pierce will continue playing another season or call it a career. What we do know is that Celtics fans would love to see him return to Boston, even if only for a day, so that he can retire wearing the No. 34 uniform that will one day hang from the rafters of the TD Garden.
That may not happen this year, but when he’s ready, the door is open. Even better, coach Rivers will be holding it for him.