Washington Wizards veteran Paul Pierce has revealed that he is unsure as to whether he will return to playing in the NBA next season after a gruelling year.
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The 37-year-old walked off the court on Friday night disappointed as his buzzer-beater was chalked off which signalled the end of the Wizards’ season.
Washington suffered a 4-2 series loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, and Pierce’s late heroics did not count as time had expired before he let off his three-pointer to tie the game.
The 17-year veteran has conceded that he will take time with his family this summer to consider his options and decide whether or not to exercise a $5.5m player option to return for the final year of his contract.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Pierce said shortly after the game, according to ESPN.
“I don’t even know if I am going to play basketball anymore. These seasons get harder and harder every year, every day. Summers get even harder when you start getting back in shape. I’m 37 years old. I’m top two or three oldest in the league.”
It would undoubtedly come as a surprise if Pierce opted to call time on his career, as the former NBA champion proved particularly in the post-season that he still has plenty to offer.
Aside from hitting clutch shots for his team, the former Boston Celtics star played a vital role in the progression of the likes of John Wall and Bradley Beal and so coach Randy Wittman will certainly miss his influence and leadership.
However, he cut a dejected figure in the locker room after and continued to talk about how much it takes out of him both physically and emotionally, and it may well be the end of the road for the veteran.
The Wizards have made it clear that they want him to come back next year, but ultimately the decision is Pierce’s to make if he feels that he still has something left to give.