Paul Pierce thinks Celtics can land a star free agent

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce looks on during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Paul Pierce said on Monday that he thinks the Celtics could attract a big-name free agent this summer. –Jae C. Hong/AP

The Celtics have never landed a star via free agency, but Paul Pierce believes that trend could be coming to an end rather soon.

The Clipper forward has been impressed recently with how Danny Ainge has rebuilt the team’s current roster following the team’s decision to trade him and Kevin Garnett to the Nets in the summer of 2013. However, the long-time Celtic took that praise up a notch ahead of Monday’s game against his former team, telling Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe that he likes Boston’s odds of finally landing a big fish in the coming summers.

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“It’s gonna happen. It’s gonna happen,” he said before the Clippers’ 114-90 blowout win over Boston. “Even though it hasn’t. It’s like a lot of things you thought wasn’t going to happen, like it wasn’t going to be a black president. It’s gonna happen. And Kevin Durant could be the first one, who knows?”

The Celtics are positioned to have nearly $55 million in salary cap room this summer, enough capital to chase two max veteran players when free agency opens on July 1.

The 38-year-old Pierce won’t be one of those players returning to Boston via free agency if Ainge is able to beef up his roster. The former Celtic captain signed a three-year contract with the Clippers last offseason but is still unsure about his playing status following the current season.

Pierce wouldn’t shut the door on eventually returning to his original team in some capacity after his career comes to an end.

“I just keep all possibilities open,” he said last month in Boston. “If that’s an opportunity that presents itself I would love to. This is a Class-A organization with what they’ve been able to do. Wyc [Grousbeck], Steve [Pagliuca], they’re great owners. They’ve got a great young core, they’ve got a great young coach. So who knows? Maybe I’ll find a role here someday in the future.”

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