LAS VEGAS -- Seemingly, everyone in the NBA world has an opinion on Paul Pierce joining the Wizards. Jason Kidd, Pierce’s most recent head coach, is no exception.
“Washington got better,” said Kidd on Monday from the Thomas & Mack center on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus, site of the 2014 Las Vegas summer league. “They got a veteran guy who understands what it means to be a professional, comes to work every day and understands what it takes to win championships.”
Kidd coached Paul Pierce last season with the Brooklyn Nets, who invested heavily in Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the hopes of raising a banner. As of June, many assumed Kidd and Pierce would try together again. Instead the coach engineered both his exit and landing spot with the Milwaukee Bucks while the desired money apparently no longer existed in Brooklyn for the player.
The most interesting component of the Pierce signing by the Wizards isn’t the obvious. Nope, not about the 16-year veteran replacing Trevor Ariza as Washington’s starting small forward. Not even how Pierce, an NBA champion in 2008 with the Celtics, fits in with All-Star point guard John Wall or big men Marcin Gortat and Nene.
At this point in Pierce’s career, it’s championships or bust -- and he picked the Wizards.
Kidd spoke on Monday following Milwaukee’s summer league contest. Asked what the Pierce signing says about the Wizards, Kidd responded, “I think it’s just a matter of the process of getting better. You can see that with [Marcin] Gortat coming back. The backcourt is very talented. They lose a player, a piece, but they’re not afraid to go out and get a piece that can help them. They’re going to be one of the top teams in the East.”
Reports had Pierce looking at other teams including the Clippers, though cap concerns in Los Angeles ended hopes of a reunion with his former Celtics coach, Doc Rivers.
Regardless of such detail, the kind scant few will remember in six weeks let alone next year and beyond, Pierce ended up with the Wizards. Outside of on-court or draft results, this scenario stands as arguably the most significant for Washington, at least symbolically, since 1997 when Michael Jordan called the Chris Webber/Juwan Howard group, “the team of the future.”
Part of Pierce’s job will involve guiding the core young group -- Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr. -- Wizards management hopes will make the team victorious in the present and the future.
“He’s going to help them all and they’re going to help him,” Kidd said of Pierce and the Wiz kids. “When you talk about work ethic, he comes every day early to do his job. He’s been in a lot of battles, classic championships. He’s going to help these guys understand what it takes to win.”
As for how the kids will help Pierce, think about last season and how Wall found Ariza and others for open shots.
“They’ve got some talented guys that can get him shots. It goes both ways,” Kidd continued.
Besides, with Pierce it’s a been there, done that situation.
“[Paul] won’t have any problems [fitting in],” Kidd stated. “He’ll be fine.”