It was early in the afternoon yesterday while I was sifting through the clearance box at Express in Tysons when my ESPN app sounded off the notification that our beloved Trevor Ariza had decided to move on to the Houston Rockets. Ariza’s contract, worth $32 million over 4 years, is more than likely going to be the last long-term deal of his career and if the Wizards were to match an offer like the one the Rockets used to lure him over, it would have made their cap situation as inflexible as a 7th grader’s morning woody. Still, for what Ariza had given us, for the courtship his 3-point range had developed with John Wall’s passing abilities, a sense of closure was deserved.
But before Ariza’s departure had soaked in, and shortly after we began offering tweets of consolation and reminders that a top 3 pick from last year would breed into a viable replacement for him, Wizards Free Agency After Dark whispered a breaking update that the team had signed Paul Pierce to a 2-year, $11 million deal by way of the MLE exception. And there, my friends, was our consolation.
Obama , J Wall here I come
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) July 13, 2014
(Just when we thought the habits of entering spaces before punctuation marks couldn’t get any worse, btw)
The turnaround time in which the Wizards were able to not only replace Ariza with a proven scorer and leader but finding the best one available at the best cost was tremendous. Yes, Pierce is going to be 37 when the season starts and yes, Pierce is a long past his years of being an offensive machine that would single handedly shut games down. But also consider that Paul Pierce still has some (or more) juice left in the tank, as evidenced by last year’s numbers with Brooklyn: 16.8 PER (a career low but albeit still average-to-good), 37% from 3, an eFG% of 52.9, and a true shooting percentage of 59.5, all in 28 minutes per game.
This type of short-term, low-pay deal for a guy who can still exhibit his prowess on the floor while being a locker room leader (of the future-Hall-of-Famer variety), and not to mention source of guidance for Otto Porter could rank as one of Ernie’s smartest moves. The cap flexibility this deal allows is sorely discrepant from what the case would have been had Ariza signed a deal like the one he did with Houston. And with Pierce’s flexibility in playing both the 3 and 4 positions, and in limited minutes, this only makes things better for Otto’s growth. I mean, for a young bruh like Otto, can you imagine what it’s like to go from getting zero burn to spelling a guy like Pierce in the rotation, and perhaps vice versa? I would imagine it’d be quite a thrilling boost to his motivation.
Meanwhile, John Wall and Marcin Gortat offered their warm cyber-welcomes to The Truth:
— John Wall (@John_Wall) July 13, 2014
Its going to be an honor to play with such an amazing player.
— Marcin Gortat (@MGortat) July 13, 2014
With Pierce conveniently able to flex at either the small or power forward position, it gives Wittman a crap ton of lineup possibilities. Usually the notion of Wittman being given more options for his rotations is a scary one, but suddenly, it isn’t anymore (scary) I always #Pray4Nene, but in the inevitable instance that we lose him from the lineup for a game or a dozen, a lineup of Wall-Panda-Otto-Truth-Hammer is one that intrigues me much.
And for all us pipe dreamers, not only does the Pierce deal give the Wizards a fair shot at #KD2DC2016 cap-wise, his success playing alongside Wall and Beal could also be a deciding factor for Kevin Durant’s decision to return home. Yeah, still a pipe dream, though. But once again, kudos to the Wizards’ brass for smartly playing out their free agency cards so far this summer. Word on the Chinatown streets is that a Trevor Booker deal to return to the Wizards is also in the works. And with a few more vet minimum contracts (perhaps Drew Gooden and Garrett Temple included), the Wizards are looking to shape more into a contender in the East for at least the next two seasons before the summer of 2016.