FACT: The Celtics would be highly unlikely to sign Pierce to a new contract for the 2013-14 season after waiving him before June 30th due to their salary cap situation.
Remember all that committed money Ainge has on the books for next year? That’s incredibly limiting in this situation. If the C’s wanted to bring back Pierce on a smaller deal for 2013-14 after waiving him, they probably wouldn’t be able to do it, since without bird rights on Pierce, there is no real flexibility to sign him. The mid-level exception would be available, but Pierce is likely to command much more than that on the open market. Plus, it’s unclear if the team would even want to use an exception like that on Pierce when they don’t have to. However you slice it, unless Danny does so major wheeling and dealing of the rest of the roster to create salary cap room, this scenario isn’t happening.
FICTION: The Celtics will use the amnesty clause on Paul Pierce
Even if you put aside the bad vibes about amnestying a Celtics legend, doing this to Pierce really doesn’t make much sense for the Celtics, unless it’s accompanied by a couple other moves, that clear MAJOR cap space. Those scenarios are highly unlikely to happen, for a multitude of reasons I will get into in later posts this offseason. Without that possibility, amnestying Pierce still leaves Ainge at the cap ($58 million roughly) and provides ownership having to pay a fat check for a good player to play somewhere else. It’s not happening.
Robb and I disagree a bit on the idea that the amnesty clause is completely out of play. If the team is going to go the nuclear route, it can't worry about hurt feelings and has to look out for the best long-term interest of the team. Sure, it potentially exposes ownership to being on the hook for more than the $5 million guarantee it would owe if the team simply waived Pierce (part of Pierce's $15.3 million salary would be defrayed by a team that signed him), but it has to be considered when coupled with other potential moves to completely overhaul the roster. All that said, the amnesty route likely remains a long-shot option as trading Pierce would clearly be the preferred option if the team desires to move on without him. Regardless, check out the article for plenty of excellent insight into a sticky situation for Boston and its future direction.