Paul Pierce said the idea of being traded from the Boston Celtics was on his mind the past few seasons and that he saw an eventual deal unfolding in front of his eyes over the past season, the new Nets forward said at his introductory press conference in Brooklyn on Thursday.
Pierce said he initially thought he'd end his career a Celtic upon signing a four-year contract in 2011, but his thinking gradually shifted to certainty that he'd be dealt:
"I thought the writing was on the wall," he said. "You saw Doc was leaving. Rondo was hurt, probably not going to back until probably December or January. If I was a GM and I looked at the situation, one day I probably plan on being a GM if that's possible, I think I probably would have made the same decision. There's some sentimental things that go along with me and Danny being together for so long but at the end of the day, he works for the Boston Celtics, he doesn't work for Paul Pierce.
Pierce is a 15-year veteran of the NBA, and he played all 15 of those seasons with the Celtics after the team took him 10th overall in the 1998 draft out of Kansas. He was always outspoken in his allegiance to the Celtics, and Washburn described Pierce as "sedate" at the introduction Thursday as Kevin Garnett riled the crowd with, "What's up, Brooklyn?"
The changing climate of the team around him, compounded with the fact he'll be a free agent at the end of the season and that the Celtics' young star, Rondo, is of an unclear status for the upcoming season, forced Pierce to come to terms with a potential trade, which he said he felt would happen whether or not Garnett waived his no-trade clause to approve the deal with Brooklyn.
Pierce said he spoke with new Nets coach Jason Kidd in advance of the deal, and it was his conversation with Kidd that led him to call Garnett and sell the deal, Washburn reported.
The 2013-14 NBA schedule has yet to be released, but the Nets and Celtics will play four times -- two in Brooklyn, two in Boston -- as rivals in the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division. Though the date for his return to Boston in a jersey black instead of green is to be determined, he said it's a date he's already played over and over in his head:
"I've already pictured it in my head about 100 times, thousands of times and every time I've pictured it, I've shed tears," he said. "It's going to be difficult. Just seeing all the relationships, when I go there, I knew a lot of people that sat in the stands, sat in the front row, the ballkids I saw grow up that I give shoes to who come out to the arena early with me. It's definitely going to be emotional. My life was there. I spent almost half my life in Boston, I'm 35 and I spent 15 years in Boston."