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Pierce’s deal gets done

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / July 4, 2010

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Celtics fans no longer have to be concerned about or debate the future of Paul Pierce. He will remain in Boston for at least four more years after his agent, Jeff Schwartz, and team president Danny Ainge agreed on a deal late last night.

Pierce, 32, will earn more than the expected $61 million over the life of the contract. The eight-time All-Star and 2008 NBA Finals MVP will likely retire as a Celtic, which is something he said was a goal.

Pierce wasn’t a free agent for long after opting out of the last year of his previous contract. The sides spent the last few days working out the parameters of the deal, and it is believed that the fourth year is at least partially guaranteed. The contract ensures at least two of the Big Three will be back in Boston.

Pierce’s return was encouraged by the decision of coach Doc Rivers to come back for a seventh season and make another run at the Finals.

The Celtics led the Lakers by 13 points in the third quarter of Game 7, but melted down the stretch and lost, 83-79. Pierce, who averaged 18.3 points and 4.4 rebounds during the regular season, finished with 18 points on 5-for-15 shooting in Game 7, leaving him with a bitter taste heading into the offseason.

Pierce averaged nearly 19 points per game during the postseason and took over Game 5 of the Finals with his customary post-ups and elbow jumpers. He finally reached full health in the postseason after missing 10 games with knee and foot injuries.

Pierce defied his critics by becoming perhaps the best player of his 1998 draft class. Picked behind Michael Olowokandi, Raef LaFrentz, Robert Traylor, Jason Williams, and Larry Hughes, Pierce was an instant success for the Celtics and helped the club to an improbable run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2002.

Not until the Celtics acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in a wild summer of 2007 did Pierce reach consistent team success. In the Big Three’s first season, the Celtics won 66 games and Pierce led Boston to a six-game Finals victory over the Lakers.

Pierce earned $19.7 million last season and was eligible for a maximum contract, beginning at $20.78 million, but he accepted $5 million less to stay home and retire a Celtic.

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