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The Wizards will be caught in a rough spot if Paul Pierce leaves

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As you've probably heard by now, Paul Pierce has opted-out of the second year of his deal and will be a free agent this summer. Perhaps, as @NBALPaficionado argued in a recent FanPost, Pierce is opting-out because he could re-sign for more than he'd make by opting-in. On the other hand, he could also very well be taking the opportunity to opt-out and join with the team he initially wanted to sign with last season, the Clippers, who now have an opening at small forward after sending Matt Barnes to Charlotte in the Lance Stephenson trade.

If nothing else, it's clear the Wizards are concerned about Pierce reuniting with Doc Rivers next season. Ted Leonsis went out of his way last week to speak highly of Pierce in an interview and on his blog, about what Pierce has meant to the team and how much they'd like to have him back next season. These aren't things you see from an owner, even one as effusive as Leonsis, for your run-of-the-mill player hitting free agency. The Wizards want Paul Pierce back, and they aren't going to let him walk away without knowing he's still wanted in Washington.

Question is, should the Wizards be putting on the full court press for someone who will turn 38 before the start of next season, especially considering how well Otto Porter performed in the playoffs? The answer is yes. For as well as Porter may be able to fill the small forward position in the Wizards' starting lineup, Washington would be losing an incredibly unique player who would be nearly impossible to replace with the Wizards' limited cap room.

For all the talk about Pierce's decline, he's still one of the most useful players in the game, even in a diminished role. We all saw how explosive the Wizards were when he played power forward and hit big shots in the playoffs, but even in the regular season he was still an extremely effective player. Pierce averaged 23.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per 100 possessions and shot 38.9 percent from beyond the arc last season. You're not going to find someone on the open market who can hit those numbers and cost as much or less than Pierce last season.

Even if you assume Pierce has a 10 percent dropoff across the board next season due to age, you're still not going to find someone who can replace that output. If you're looking for someone who averaged 90 percent of what Pierce did last season (20.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists per 100 possessions and 35 percent from beyond the arc) you'll only find 14 other players who hit those marks last season. Of the 14, the only player who will be making less than what Pierce would make in Washington next season is Omri Casspi, and even still, he wouldn't bring the same defensive presence, so you're still looking at a downgrade.

Perhaps even more problematically, even if you could find someone who could replace what Paul Pierce brings to the table without going over the luxury tax, you probably won't be able to sign them to a one year deal to keep cap space open for 2016. So even if you can find someone who can match Pierce's output without eating up more cap room, you're still going to have to give up a first round pick to clear that contract if the Wizards can sign a max free agent next summer.

Bottom line, no one else in the NBA can do what Paul Pierce does as the price he does it without the commitment that other players Pierce need. No team in the NBA needs Paul Pierce next season more than the Wizards. Now, the Wizards have to hope they can convince Pierce there's no better place to be than Washington next season.