I've seen a number of Wizards fans on this blog and on Twitter react to the news of Paul Pierce by assuming he's leaving to sign with the Clippers. He very well might be. But that's not the only possible reason he could have for opting out.
The player option Pierce declined today, June 20, was worth $5,543,725, which is the full value of last year's mid-level exception, with the maximum 4.5% raise. By declining his PO, Pierce now has the opportunity to re-sign with the Wizards using the Non-Bird Exception, which allows teams to re-sign players for up to 120% of their previous year's salary (shout out to the irreplaceable cbafaq.com) . The maximum the Wizards could offer Pierce using the Non-Bird Exception would be 6,366,000, which is $822,275 more than what Pierce would have made had he opted in.
All I'm trying to say is: we shouldn't rush to assume Pierce has already decided against coming back to play for the Wizards just because he opted out. There are basically three reasons he could have for opting out:
1. He wants re-sign with the Wiz for $822,725 more than he would make if he opted in
2. He's undecided about where he wants to play and wants more time to consider his options
3. He wants to sign with the Clippers, presumably for the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception, worth "only" $3,376,000.
Only one of those options rules out re-signing with the Wizards. I might be a homer/overly optimistic, but I still think there is a close to 50% chance that he comes back. The 'Zards could really use him if he plays close to as well as he did last season, so I doubt the Front Office would be unwilling to offer the maximum allowed under the Non-Bird if Pierce demanded it. As a Wizards fan, I hope he does.