Nets GM denies Pierce-to-Clippers talk has any juice

Paul Pierce

Pierce (AP)
In an interview on ESPN radio 98.7 with Michael Kay, Billy King denied that the Nets and Clippers were engaged in talks about a sign-and-trade deal to send Paul Pierce to Los Angeles.

“They made a call and inquired, but there’s nothing there at this point that makes sense for us,” King told Kay Thursday night.

He’s right. I looked at potential sign-and-trade options for Paul Pierce, and the only way a deal makes sense is if it helps the Nets shed significant salary. But the Clippers are also over the salary cap, so to make any deal work, the Nets would likely have to take on inferior players at roughly the same cost they’d pay Pierce. It’s a little more palatable if the Nets can include a third team, but then the Nets would want draft picks in return, which no team will give up just to help the Nets save money.

If money is Pierce’s biggest sticking point, the Nets still have the biggest advantage: they can offer him any contract up to his maximum salary, even though they’re over the cap, because they own his Bird rights. The Clippers can only offer Pierce the mid-level exception, up to a three-year deal starting at $5.3 million. That may be enough to sway Pierce, who’s made over $170 million in salary alone in his career, if he really wants to play in Los Angeles under former coach Doc Rivers.

Most of the NBA is in a holding pattern waiting for big dominos LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to fall, but the Nets & Clippers aren’t in those sweepstakes. It’s also hard to imagine Pierce tying his future to one of those two players. So I’d expect a decision from Pierce on his future sooner rather than later.