The King of the North is heading West. According to multiple sources, Paul Pierce is signing a three year deal with the Clippers.
#Clippers have agreed to a deal with Paul Pierce, per NBA source— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) July 1, 2015
Free agent Paul Pierce has agreed to a three-year deal with the Clippers, league sources tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2015
Pierce deal is at the mini-mid level for taxpaying teams, per sources. Two years beginning at $3.3, with option for third year.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 1, 2015
The terms of Pierce's contract are important in understanding why Pierce chose to make the leap from Washington to Los Angeles. Since Pierce opted out, it appeared Pierce was going to be stuck between choosing more money in Washington, or a more comfortable situation closer to home with Doc Rivers, who he played with in Boston. As it turns out, Pierce was able to secure both in his deal with the Clippers.
The Wizards reportedly offered Pierce $6.6 million deal (the most they could offer) for next season and a team option for next season, which they would probably decline to exercise as they pursue Kevin Durant. The Clippers were able to undercut Washington's position by offering a second year, fully guaranteed. The sum of the two year deal (plus the team option for a third year) equaled out to what Washington was offering for next year alone.
Once the money evens out, you can understand why Pierce would choose to sign with the Clippers rather than stay in Washington. The Clippers finished as a higher seed last season in the more competitive Western Conference and have a glaring need for a small forward to fill the void after the Clippers traded Matt Barnes to Charlotte for Lance Stephenson. Furthermore, as we saw last season, he can play effectively at power forward, which could come in handy if the Clippers wanted to use a Pierce-Griffin combo in crunch time to keep opposing teams from trying the Hack-A-DeAndre strategy, assuming Jordan stays in Los Angeles.
Pierce's exit is a tough blow for Washington, both in terms of how it affects their chances next season and what it says about where the Wizards rank in the NBA's hierarchy. As much as Paul Pierce did to boost the Wizards' profile by signing in Washington last season, he did just as much to show they're still a step behind the major markets by walking away this summer. It will be extremely difficult for the Wizards to find a player who can replace what Pierce brought to the table this season, given the Wizards' limited financial flexibility this summer. We'll see if Rodney Stuckey is a serious option for the Wizards' MLE very soon. Somehow, we doubt it, but we've been surprised before.