Paul Pierce has embraced his role as a bench player for the Washington Wizards this season, and that is partly because it is such a better experience than what he endured last season.
Pierce, along with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry, was traded to the Brooklyn Nets before last season. The three were expected to be extra pieces that would make the Nets a serious contender in the Eastern Conference, but that’s not at all how things worked out. The Nets struggled to start the year but managed to finish 44-38 under first-year head coach Jason Kidd, and they advanced to the second round of the playoffs before losing to the Miami Heat.
“I’m much happier,” he said. “It was a tough situation (in Brooklyn) last year. Horrible, really.
“It was just the guys’ attitudes there. It wasn’t like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn’t want to play and didn’t want to practice. I was looking around saying, ‘What’s this?’ Kevin (Garnett) and I had to pick them up every day in practice.”
Pierce says that without him and KG, the team would have fallen apart and “folded up.”
He also was extremely disappointed with Deron Williams, whom he viewed as a potential MVP candidate prior to the trade. After playing with him, he learned that the point guard really lacked desire.
“Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that.
“I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”
Aside from Williams, Pierce says he felt the Nets lacked leadership. He says that was a role he and Garnett assumed, which didn’t completely fit since they were no longer the star players.
Lastly, Pierce says that Ray Allen’s relationship with Rajon Rondo wasn’t the only strained one on the Celtics. He says that Allen really just stuck to his own and was more of an individual rather than someone who spent a lot of time with his teammates. Pierce says the two had a good relationship on the court but weren’t really that close off of it.
After reading that, it makes sense why Allen chose to leave Boston to sign with the Miami Heat; he didn’t feel all that close with his Celtics teammates.