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ESPN has reported that the most exciting free agent class in the NBA’s history has now grown by one. According to the World Wide Leader, Paul Pierce has notified the Boston Celtics that he will opt out of the final year of his contract before Wednesday’s deadline, forgoing a guaranteed $21.5 million and becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
The news comes as little surprise as Pierce appears to be angling for a $96 million maximum contract over the next four years. At his advanced age with increasing mileage on his NBA odometer, Pierce is smart not to risk a mediocre season, even at the rate of $21.5 million. He, like many league sources, is confident that the Celtics will refuse to allow Pierce to go elsewhere, thus the move seems to be a safe bet. One can hardly fault the man for his attempt at landing one last big-time payday.
Pierce will now become eligible to sign a new four-year deal with the Celtics worth a maximum of $96 million but can also receive four-year offers from other teams worth a maximum $93 million.
Danny Ainge played coy last week during a radio appearance on WEEI, and outside interest in Pierce has been difficult to gauge as most of the focus has been on LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and Joe Johnson, who most believe are looking for greener pastures.
Many times Pierce has expressed his desire to retire a Celtic, and has a great appreciation for the team’s history. Though a departure seems far-fetched, his decision certainly adds a bit more spice to an already smoking NBA offseason.