The Boston Celtics are considered one of the most formidable teams in the NBA today. Tied with the Miami Heat of Dwyane Wade and the Charlotte Hornets of Jeremy Lin at fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Marcus Smart crew has a good shot at easing out the Cleveland Cavaliers of LeBron James. Moreover, the pending return of Jae Crowder could provide the Boston Celtics with the push to get rid of Al Horford's Atlanta Hawks and Kyle Lowry's Toronto Raptors soon.
The NBA playoffs drama in the Kyrie Irving-led conference has the Boston Celtics hanging by a thread to qualify for a widely coveted spot. With injuries and losses in the roster, the Isaiah Thomas squad has been barely making it this season. Nonetheless, they persevered in an effort to keep their playoffs dreams alive. If they do not make it to the NBA playoffs this season, what can the Boston Celtics do to improve their chances in the years to come?
The answer appears to lie on the return of Paul Pierce. The 38-year-old, who is currently playing alongside Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the Los Angeles Clippers, had been one of the forces behind the successes of the Boston Celtics from 1998 to 2013. In addition to Pierce, the Tyler Zeller team had Kevin Garnet and Jason Terry as leaders at the time as well. All three men were traded to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013.
Following the trade, Pierce spent seasons with the Washington Wizards of John Wall until he finally signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. However, it looks like the 2008 NBA Finals MVP is eyeing another basketball team as his final destination before he ends his career in the hardwood court. If the rumor mill is to be believed, then Pierce might return to the Boston Celtics soon.
"I just keep all possibilities open," Pierce said when asked of his possible return to the Boston Celtics. He added, "If that's an opportunity that presents itself I would love to. This is a Class-A organization with what they've been able to do. Wyc [Grousbeck], Steve [Pagliuca], they're great owners. They've got a great young core, they've got a great young coach. So who knows? Maybe I'll find a role here someday in the future."
The possible return of Pierce is said to be a move by Danny Ainge geared towards helping the younger guys in the Boston Celtics roster to bloom into fierce competitors and leaders. That is, the current Los Angeles Clippers star could be brought in to mentor the likes of Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas. With Pierce's impressive NBA record and experience, the young core of the Boston Celtics could definitely benefit from him - pretty much how D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson were mentored by Kobe Bryant in the Los Angeles Lakers or how Kevin Garnet served as a support system for Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns.
"He's probably one of the most competitive people I know when it comes to everything, even preparing for the game," shared Bradley of Pierce. He added, "If I was out here running sprints to just warm my body up, Paul would probably tie his shoes up and do the same thing. He just always wants to be the best and he wants to prepare the best, and I was able to learn a lot from him as far as respecting the game and being professional. I learned so much from him and I appreciate him. Definitely one of the best teammates I've ever played with."
Bradley further noted, "The guys we were able to learn it from were the Kevin Garnetts and the Paul Pierces. They were consistent every single day. It kind of rubbed off on everybody else, and we were able to become better players and then become a better team because of those guys. The one thing I can say is it's always been an honor to be on the floor with them."