Wizards move on from Pierce; announce signing of Gary Neal
WASHINGTON (AP) Once Paul Pierce moved on, so did the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards signed Gary Neal, acquired Jared Dudley from Milwaukee and agreed to terms with swingman Alan Anderson, who will help replace what was lost when Pierce decided to join the Los Angeles Clippers.
Washington also brought back forward Drew Gooden on a one-year deal.
”You just have to move on. You can’t dwell on it,” coach Randy Wittman said Thursday about Pierce’s departure. ”You have to be ready to move on with the next step and I think we’ve done a good job with that.”
Wittman also confirmed point guard John Wall’s fractured wrist suffered during the playoffs did not require surgery. The All-Star guard missed three games, but returned for the final two of the team’s season.
Terms were not disclosed by the team, but The Associated Press previously reported Neal agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million contract as a free agent.
Neal, Dudley and Anderson provide the roster with needed perimeter depth, though none have Pierce’s resume. The Los Angeles native starred for the Wizards during the playoffs, sinking several clutch baskets during a four-game sweep against Toronto and the series loss to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Asked if he was surprised by Pierce’s decision, Wittman said: ”If you’re around long enough you’re never surprised. I think you can probably ask (Dallas Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban that.”
The Mavericks learned Wednesday that free agent center DeAndre Jordan spurned an agreement with Dallas to return with the Clippers.
Pierce turns 38 in October.
”Disappointed a little bit, just because who Paul is and what he is, but he’s at the end of his career,” said Wittman, who ended his nine-year playing career with Indiana.
”I know he’s got his mom there and family there and he grew up there. I know what that was all about. I was able to play with my hometown team at the end of my career. I know what the thought process is there.”
Gooden tweeted Thursday night: ”I want 2 thank the Leonsis Family, and the entire Wizards organization 4 giving me another opportunity to compete for a ring! DC I’m back!!!”
Neal, 30, averaged 10.1 points over 54 games last season with Charlotte and Minnesota. The Baltimore native, who spent his first three NBA seasons with San Antonio, is a 38.1 percent shooter from beyond the 3-point arc for his career.
”I think the biggest thing that stood out to me was getting back to a team with playoff expectations,” Neal said during a conference call. ”For the teams that I had on my list, Washington was atop that list. Also, just having an opportunity to play with a pass-first, very good point guard in John Wall.”