PDA

View Full Version : Boston Globe on Ainge and Pierce talking about Pierce's role with team



Bball
06-22-2004, 12:04 PM
Where Does Pierce Fit (http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/articles/2004/06/22/and_just_where_does_pierce_fit/)

And just where does Pierce fit?

By Shira Springer, Globe Staff | June 22, 2004

For a brief, frighteningly transcendent moment, Paul Pierce channeled Danny Ainge. But make no mistake, this was no party trick gone awry, no twisted comic imitation. This was the serious business of team rebuilding, and Pierce took a thoughtful turn as the Celtics' executive director of basketball operations.
ADVERTISEMENT


When asked what he would like the Celtics to do this offseason, whom they should draft, what moves they should make in addition to hiring Doc Rivers as coach, Pierce did not talk about trades and acquisitions.

"We have to do a better job with player development, especially with younger guys," said Pierce. "Maybe we need to have a couple of minicamps, just to develop our players, because I don't think we did a good job with that this year. We haven't developed our young players well since I've been a Celtic."

But if the Celtics emphasize player development -- as both Pierce and Ainge advocate -- where does that leave Pierce, who turns 27 during training camp in October? If Ainge envisions "a team of 8-10 good players who can overcome a superstar" where does that leave Pierce, a three-time All-Star undoubtedly with ambitions of joining the league's elite?

"I don't think Paul is a leader, but what I would hope Paul could give us and our organization are different ways to lead," said Ainge. "The greatest effectiveness he can have as a leader is by working harder than anybody else in our organization. And he does a pretty good job of that, of playing hard and playing hurt and giving good effort.

"Paul is huge. He's our best player. He's an All-Star. He's the greatest asset our franchise has."

Interesting choice of words.

Trade talk swirled around Pierce during the second half of last season, a season rife with frustration for him. When he spoke of that frustration, Pierce wondered aloud about "The Vision" Ainge held for the franchise. He watched trusted teammates and a respected head coach disappear from the locker room. He looked around and saw youth and inexperience. When the season ended, Mark Blount said he felt sorry for Pierce.

"He's not untradable," said Ainge. "There's no such thing. I would be asking about Paul Pierce. He's worth the money. He fits the criteria everyone is looking for."

That was not exactly the case six years ago. In one of the most fortuitous moments in Celtics draft history, Pierce fell to the franchise at No. 10 in the 1998 draft. In 2001, he signed a six-year contract extension worth approximately $80 million, announcing he wanted to finish his career with Boston. (The deal went into effect at the start of the 2002-03 season.) Even after the 2003-04 season, the most challenging of his career, Pierce maintained that he was with the Celtics for the long haul. But does he know how long that haul will be with another crop of under-20 players in the mix for the team's three first-round selections?

The best-case example of recent player development may be the Indiana Pacers, who patiently waited for high school draftees Jermaine O'Neal (No. 17 pick by Portland, 1996), Al Harrington (No. 25 pick by Indiana, 1998) and Jonathan Bender (No. 5 pick by Toronto, 1999) to mature into contributors. But from the collection of Marcus Banks, Kendrick Perkins, Jiri Welsch, Ricky Davis, and possibly current high school prospect Robert Swift, do the Celtics have players who could become key contributors to a championship?

All of this brings the Celtics back to the importance of development. Since Ainge does not envision a superstar-with-supporting-cast squad, but rather an ensemble, the faster players develop, the better. Unless Ainge decides two or three pieces are worth the price of one Pierce. That said, Ainge maintains Pierce can "set an unbelievable tone" by "being coachable and hard-working." But he does not envision the captain bringing the team a title without help from similarly talented players.

"I would not say Paul's a superstar," said Ainge. "My classification of a superstar is different than a lot of people's classification of a superstar. Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kevin Garnett are the three superstars we have in our league today.

"Paul's a star. He's a perennial All-Star player. I don't classify that as a superstar. I think a superstar is a franchise player that year in and year out has all the characteristics to carry a championship team."

But is Pierce the right player right now for The Vision? Is he the right player as part of a collection of "good players" or better as a tradable asset for building such a collection?

As with most matters in the days before the draft, there are more questions than answers. As with all aspects of The Vision, time will tell what works best.
Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

Unclebuck
06-22-2004, 12:33 PM
For once I agree with Ainge. PP is not a superstar, he is a star, but then I don't consider J.O. a superstar either at least not yet

Will Galen
06-22-2004, 12:44 PM
For once I agree with Ainge. PP is not a superstar, he is a star, but then I don't consider J.O. a superstar either at least not yet

I agree, superstar's are all time greats. Right now only players that qualify are the three Danny named. That's not to say other players shouldn't be Hall of Famers.

Roy Munson
06-22-2004, 12:49 PM
For once I agree with Ainge. PP is not a superstar, he is a star, but then I don't consider J.O. a superstar either at least not yet

I agree, superstar's are all time greats. Right now only players that qualify are the three Danny named. That's not to say other players shouldn't be Hall of Famers.

You don't consider Kobe an "all-time great"? I do.