Paul Pierce playing in anything other than a Boston Celtics uniform is almost unthinkable at this point. After 14 years with the team, Pierce has firmly and unequivocally established himself as one of the greatest players in franchise history. (And seeing as we're talking about the Boston Celtics here, that's saying a lot.)
Because of that, even though everyone heard the rumors last year that Boston wasn’t entirely unwilling to move their star for the right price – nobody really brought it.
Nobody except Pierce himself, that is.
After a very turbulent 2012 campaign, he was apparently so wary and worn down by the non-stop speculation that the prospect of leaving (or being moved) did in fact cross his mind. He said this much during a recent interview with CSNNE.
"It really did cross my mind," Pierce said, when asked whether he ever thought about playing elsewhere. "The way last year went with the trade rumors, the possibility of me being traded the possibility of us rebuilding, it was hard not to think about it, sometimes it wears on you mentally because you can't know what your future is gonna be or what's gonna be your next step.
"I'm in a position to where I really didn't wanna be part of being in a rebuilding situation, especially after playing over the last five years on teams that were capable of winning a championship. At this point of my career, I only have a few years left, you want to maximize those years."
Fortunately, it never came to that. Although the Celtics lost a key component in Ray Allen to the Miami Heat, they quickly rebounded by bringing in Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. There is a reasonable case to be made, in fact, that they may actually end up being better sans Allen than they would have been with him.
When it’s all said and done, Pierce will likely retire a Celtic. He’s come too far and stayed with them too long for it to end in any other way. Similarly, the franchise would catch a lot of flak from fans if they tried to move him at point before his retirement.
"I was telling somebody the other day I'm pretty much institutionalized [in Boston]," Pierce said in that same interview. "If I went somewhere else I couldn't see it. Hopefully I can be here a lot longer than even my playing days. Just to help along with coaching and management, I've really given some thought to that, giving back to what the game has given to me. And I hope I can continue to do that in Boston."
Pierce’s Celtics will play their first preseason game of the year on Friday, Oct. 5 in Istanbul.