Washington Wizards Sign Paul Pierce, Trevor Booker Likely Back (UPDATED)
As shocking as that had to be to the system of some Wizards, they had to be prepared to a degree. They realized that Ariza had a career year, and that he was looking for one last big contract. Houston is a familiar situation and a championship contender. Hard to blame Ariza too much for taking money over the comfort he’d built in Washington (thanks to John Wall).
More shocking to the system: the Washington Wizards have signed Paul Pierce, replacing one departing NBA championship ring with another.
First reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Wizards have signed Pierce using the midlevel exception (MLE) for two years (the full MLE is $5.305 million). The contract will exceed $10 million total but Pierce will have an opt-out in year two. The Washington Post’s Michael Lee has confirmed the signing and indicates the Pierce’s former teammate, Sam Cassell, helped recruit him to Washington. Marcin Gortat has already welcomed Pierce to the Wizards family on Twitter, as has John Wall.
Pierce will turn 37 in October and put up a career low PER of 16.8 last season with the Brooklyn Nets. His eFG% of .529, however, tied for the third best in his career. He shot .373 from 3-point land, which is a shade above his career average of .370. NBA.com’s David Aldridge tweets: “Pierce’s first choice wasn’t D.C. He wanted LA or Nets. But as he looked at Wiz closer he said ‘they’re a pretty good team,’ per source.”
In order for the Wizards to sign Pierce using the MLE, they would have to be over the salary cap. With John Wall, Nene, Marcin Gortat, Martell Webster, Andre Miller, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Glen Rice, and Kevin Seraphin (to the qualifying offer) already on the books, the Wizards have around $57.9 million total in team salary, just over $5 million under the cap (per Sham Sports).
Truth About It.net has learned, per sources, that part of facilitating the signing of Pierce includes the return of Trevor Booker; contract details are being sorted out.
Along with those mentioned, and with presumably Drew Gooden and Garrett Temple, the Wizards would have 13 roster positions filled for next season (not counting Al Harrington and Chris Singleton, who were on last season’s final roster). Stay tuned for more.
UPDATE: The Wizards and Trevor Booker were unable to reach a compromise on contract terms, as Booker has signed a deal with the Utah Jazz for two-years and $10 million, per reports from Yahoo. Booker will leave Washington after four seasons and will get paid more than the qualifying offer of $4.7 million that the Wizards were not willing to extend. In his place, the Wizards have signed Kris Humphries. More details to come.