Paul Pierce had remained rather quiet this offseason despite the avalanche of change around him. The Celtics decided to retool instead of rebuild, allowing for the return of Kevin Garnett and several pieces from last season.
But one of those pieces who did not include Ray Allen, who bolted to the arch rival Miami Heat, revealing a rift between he and Rajon Rondo. The departure disappointed many in Celtics’ organization, including Pierce, but that pain was soon soothed by the signings of Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and acquisition of Courtney Lee.
Pierce spoke to the Globe today following his basketball camp in Basketball City, touching on a variety of subjects, including his contract status. Pierce has one more year on his contract with a team option for 2013-14, something that could prove to be a major issues next summer approaches.
Here is Pierce on several subjects:
On Ray Allen: “I was a little disappointed, playing with Ray for five years. But at the end of the day, Ray has to make a decision that’s best for him and his family. He’s always going to be my brother. No hard feelings. There’s never going to be any hard feelings there, regardless. I was able to win a championship with him, something you’re going to be able to remember the rest of your life. We’re going to be able to come back here years from now when we’re all done. We’re going to be standing together at halfcourt sometime in the Garden. He did what’s best for him. He’s a couple of years away from retirement and he just felt that was best for his family.
“He made all the money in the world that he could make, so I’m sure it probably wasn’t about the money, even thought we (offered) him more money. So I’m sure that a few extra million dollars didn’t sway him one way or the other. I think it was all about him personally.”
On whether he tried to recruit Allen back to Boston: “I didn’t really feel the need for that. Ray been here five years. Ain’t like I don’t know him and I’m trying to get him here. He knows everything that’s going on. He knows what he wants. I don’t think there’s nothing I could have said, KG (Kevin Garnett), Doc (Rivers) or anybody could have said that could have changed his mind. I would love to have him back here. I thought it would have made our chances greater at getting to the Finals. At the end of the day you have to move on, but what we’ve done with the additions of our team, we did a great job at that and moving forward.”
On whether he will talk to Rondo about dealing with perceptions that he chased Allen out of Boston: “I think at this point of Rajon’s career, I think he’s pretty much been through everything as far as the negativity off the court, what people have said to him. Even last year, preseason stuff, the things that were talked with him about in the locker room and on TV. He’s been through that. Something else is probably going to come up in training camp when we start even later this summer or whenever he talks to somebody. And I think he’s mature enough to deal with it now. He put the stuff from last year and the year before to come out this (past) season and have a great year and I think he’s going to continue to get better and do the same thing.
“He is actually thriving on it. He went through the trade rumors and he got better. It was like he thrived on it.”
On whether he saw any issues between Allen and Rondo: “You know what? There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in NBA locker rooms that don’t even get talked about. I had beef with a number of players that just don’t get talked about. And the reason I say that is that it’s nothing that’s new. It’s every year. Every year I’m almost getting into fights with some of the guys but you realize, I get in an (argument) with my wife. You’re around each other all the time and sometime you have disagreements. That’s just the nature of it sometimes when you got strong personalities in one locker room. You’re going to have differences. You’re around each other 24/7, bus, plane, lunch, dinner. Sometimes you have arguments. I didn’t see nothing any different that went with on with Ray and Rondo that went on with me and KG or me and Brandon Bass or stuff that has been going on over the years.”
On Garnett returning: “Well when he signed three-year contract that guaranteed me another two years with the Celtics (he laughs after statement). Truthfully. It looks like I am going to be here. There’s a domino effect with everything in the league. If KG doesn’t sign and Ray signs with Miami, (the Celtics) probably look to trade me. With KG re-signing that just said I am going to be here. That was just the first step. Now I know Danny (Ainge) was look, we’re trying to reload and try to make another run at this. And that was the first step in it. Once we did that, everybody knew the Celtics are trying to compete for a championship again and not rebuild. I was very excited with that.
“With the pieces we added, we’re putting more talent on the floor this year than we have in quite some time.”