The chances of Paul Pierce staying in Boston appear to be increasingly slim.
Cavaliers reporter Bob Finnan of The News Herald in Ohio is the latest to say Pierce probably will not be with the Celtics next season.
“Sources indicate Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge will likely buy out forward Paul Pierce’s $15 million contract for next year ($5 million is guaranteed),” Finnan wrote Sunday.
Finnan was handicapping Pierce’s availability for those who would like to see him join the Cavs, although Finnan noted quickly that Pierce would likely wait for an opportunity from “a serious contender.”
Finnan is just the latest NBA insider to say the Celtics captain will have to play elsewhere next year if he plans to continue his pro career. Pierce’s cap hit is a big factor as Ainge decides whether to give his aging core another try or push for a youth-oriented, rebuilt lineup. After the Celtics fell in the first round of this year’s playoffs, the return of Pierce, Kevin Garnett and even coach Doc Rivers has been in question.
Ainge recently confirmed that Rivers will be back, even denying the Brooklyn Nets the chance to talk to him about their head coach opening, but he has said he is not ready to make comments on Pierce’s situation yet.