By Ethan Rees on July 13, 2014
The Washington Wizards lost out on Trevor Ariza, but they moved on quickly as they were able to sign veteran Paul Pierce to a two-year deal late on Saturday. The Los Angeles Clippers seemed to be the front-runner over the past week to get his services, but the Wizards jumped in late once they realized they had a hole to fill. Everything happens for a reason, and this just may work out in Washington's favor.
The Wizards were able to ink Paul Pierce for a two-year deal at the mid-level exception with the option for him to opt out after this season. This is the ideal situation for both sides, as Pierce can weigh his options again next summer, while the Wizards don't get locked down in any long-term, overpriced contracts. They have made it clear they want to make a run for Kevin Durant, so this could help their cap for the future.
They tried matching the Rockets' offer on Trevor Ariza, but all for not as he decided to move on Houston. Ariza is set to make $ 32 million over his four-year deal, something the Wizards would not have been thrilled about. They get Pierce at a bargain price, as they were able to sign him for about half of the $ 10 million he appeared to be seeking originally. The short-term deal also benefits them.
Pierce won't be relied upon nearly as much as he was last year on the Nets, which could help him tremendously with longevity over the long year. He'll have fresher legs more often, which would be conducive to a better shooting game. He had career-lows across the board last year, but he was constantly worn out, so a spike back up in his numbers would make sense. Not that Ariza couldn't knockdown shots, but Pierce is one of a kind.
Washington just couldn't get it going against the Pacers in the playoffs, something that will definitely stick in the back of their minds. They have a great core of young players who made a postseason push, but they lack the experience a team like the Spurs possess. Pierce is an NBA Champion and Finals MVP with 148 games played in the postseason. There just aren't many players with his postseason experience.
Ariza and Pierce actually averaged very similar numbers last season, but Paul may be a much better fit for this team. As John Wall and Bradley Beal continue to flourish, the focus of this Wizards team will be on the two of them. Having Pierce at SF will help them become better players as his passing game is leaps and bounds ahead of Ariza's. His numbers should also trend back up this year.
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