August 12, 2022

Washington Wizards: The Truth Leaves DC for LA


After forgoing a player option that would have allowed Pierce to make $5.5 million in DC, The Truth decided against staying with the Wizards and return to his hometown of Los Angeles.

Pierce is reported to have signed a three year deal for $10.6 million with the Clippers. The last year, a season where Pierce would be 40, will be a team option. Pierce could have made $6.6 million during the upcoming season if he decided to stay in Washington. It is likely that Pierce was sold as soon as the Clippers offered a second guaranteed year, whereas the Wizards would have offered a second year as a team option.

When the Washington Wizards brought in Paul Pierce to replace Trevor Ariza last year, many thought it would be a step back because of the to be Hall of Famer’s age. It turned out to be the exact opposite. Although the argument can be made the Pierce was a liability on defense, his leadership presence to the young core of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter was priceless. The Truth’s ability to take the last shot and win playoff games did not hurt either.

After the Wizards five minute extension to a season was waived off when Pierce’s overtime forcing three was waved off in Game 6 against the Hawks, The Truth was soft spoken post game. Many immediately thought the former Finals MVP was ready to hang it all up after Pierce discussed the need to see how is aging body healed from the season.

After it became clear that Pierce would give it another go in chase of another championship, many linked the future Hall of Famer to a reunion with his former Celtic’s coach Doc Rivers as a Clipper in his hometown of Los Angeles. Even after the Clippers acquired Lance Stephenson, a small forward, Rivers said on a radio interview that he would like the former Pacer to come off the bench and not start. It has now become clear that Rivers clearly wanted to pursue Pierce to replace Matt Barnes in the Clippers starting lineup.

When Pierce opted out of his contract, many thought it might be a money play to receive an extra $1.1 million that he did deserve. Throughout the wait, both Wizards head coach Randy Wittman and GM Ernie Grunfeld were optimistic that the veteran wing would return. Wittman said he expected Pierce back next year moments after his team’s season ended in a post game presser and also on draft night after selecting Kelly Oubre. It is clear that the former Kansas star, Pierce not Oubre who also went to Kansas, was Washington’s #1 priority as they scheduled a conversation over the phone at 12:01 AM on July 1, the official start of free agency.

Below you can find an UPDATED depth chart including ONLY those who are currently under contract:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions
SG: Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple
SF: Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Martell Webster
PF: Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

With four roster spots currently open, the Wizards have four players in the organization who could fill them: Aaron White, Dez Wells, Rasual Butler, and Drew Gooden. White is expected to go oversees, Wells is expected to make the team, Butler may be expendable, and Gooden is the only true stretch four capable player in the franchise. If Butler is not re-signed and/or either Webster or Blair are moved, the Wizards can still look to add talent through free agency.

While waiting for an official decision from Pierce, the Wizards were not completely absent in the free agency festivities. Washington was linked to be in contact with several individuals who could provide depth to the organization. Any and all individuals who were even rumored to be associated with the Wizards can be found below. I would not expect any major flashy deals to be signed as the Wizards have hinted at every opportunity that they will pursue Durant with every penny they have next year. Wizards have essentially no cap room but can use midlevel, biannual, trade exceptions.

  • Former King and second overall pick behind Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams an undersized power forward that was possibly asked to do too much.
  • Former Timberwolves first round pick, last year with the Lakers, SG Wayne Ellington who has a stroke from beyond the arc.
  • Bulls three point threat in veteran Mike Dunleavy. The former Duke product would go on to resign with Chicago at 3 years for $15 million although he was rumored to have had other offers.
  • Longtime Piston Rodney Stuckey was an interest of the Wizards because of his consistent double digit points per game production.
  • Former Net Alan Anderson also was an interest of the Wizards for wing depth and potentially as a replacement for Pierce.

When the Wizards signed Pierce to a two year $10.8 million deal last summer, they were mostly worried about saving up enough cap space to make a hard push in returning Kevin Durant to the DMV. Coming into this summer, the Wizards hoped that Pierce would be back with the core in place. The Wizards looked to be primed to make a push at the Eastern Conference Finals if Pierce returned, but instead if will be the combination of Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre to take over the small forward position.

For the latest on the Wizards activity during free agency as well as the latest on the young prospects on their summer league team, return to District Sports Page frequently.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.


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