By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s unclear when exactly Paul Pierce will retire from the NBA, but Doc Rivers wants to make sure he is a member of his original team whenever he elects to hang it up.
That’s the message the Clippers head coach gave in the midst of his podcast appearance with Adrian Wojnarowski from the Vertical on Thursday. The 38-year-old Pierce is currently debating whether to return for his 19th NBA season and is under contract with the Clippers for the next two seasons.
“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,” Rivers told Wojnarowski. “So we have all that in place. We just don’t know what he’s going to do.”
To this point, there have been mixed signals on whether Pierce will return for the 2016-17 campaign after an underwhelming initial season with the Clippers in which he averaged a career-low in points (6.1) and rebounds (2.7) per game. Brad Turner of the LA Times reported earlier this week that a source told him Pierce intends to play next season, but he quickly followed that up with another report indicating Pierce was still undecided.
Despite his age, the Clippers still could use Pierce for one more year due to the team’s lack of depth and salary cap space. He will only earn $3.5 million this season and would join a Clippers bench unit that includes Ray Felton, Jamal Crawford, and Mo Speights. The need for Pierce’s shooting on the wing is real, but Rivers isn’t going to force the issue.
“I think Paul’s going back and forth on it, and I want to give him room,” Rivers explained. “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.”
Pierce played his first 15 NBA seasons as a member of the Celtics, averaging 21.8 points per game over 1102 contests in green.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.