In his first trip back to New York after the Nets opted not to re-sign him in free agency, Pierce said Kidd’s split with Brooklyn started what felt like a chain reaction and shift in direction for the franchise.
Just a year ago, the Nets were talking championship with Kidd, Pierce and Garnett aboard. Now Pierce is a Washington Wizard and Kidd is coaching the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I definitely didn’t see all that coming,” Pierce said at Wizards shootaround before Washington played the Knicks at the Garden. “I think it all started with Jason leaving, it was kind of like a domino from there.”
After Kidd was dealt to Milwaukee for two second-round picks following a surprising split, the Nets made the basketball and financial decision to not re-sign Pierce in free agency.
Despite trading three first-round picks for Pierce and Garnett the year before, the Nets felt they would be no closer to winning a title by re-signing Pierce and that his performance didn't justify the amount of money and luxury tax needed to keep him.
Pierce signed a two-year deal with the Wizards for $11 million. The Nets decided to add some younger assets to develop with a veteran core.
“I understand it’s a business,” Pierce said. “I was a little surprised [by not getting a contract offer from the Nets]. But you know, you got to be ready for the business side of it and understand that part. So it didn’t shock me. So no hard feelings. I understand their situation, they understand mine, both [sides] moved on.”
Pierce told NBA.com that the Nets went in a different direction because the team “wanted to cut costs, they felt like they weren’t going to be a contender.”
“I believe it,” Kidd said on Sunday when asked about Pierce’s comments about not being offered a contract. “I mean, if they don’t offer [Pierce] a contract worth what a first-round pick is, then why did we do the deal [last year for Pierce and Garnett]?”
Pierce, who shares the same agent (Jeff Schwartz) as Kidd, said he spoke to his ex-Nets boss shortly after he went to Milwaukee in June. Sources said Kidd requested say over personnel and when he was turned down, the Nets granted him permission to talk to the Bucks. Kidd has denied asking for additional power.
“It just kind of happened so fast,” Pierce said. “I had a chance to talk to him, he has his reasons the way things went down. I was a little disappointed because I thought I was going to come back there.
“Jason was one of the main reasons I came to Brooklyn, him and Kevin,” Pierce continued. “But the business, you got to understand the business aspect of it. He moved on, the Nets moved on and people went their different directions.”
Even though Garnett waived his no-trade clause to join Pierce and Kidd in Brooklyn, Pierce expects his good friend to continue playing with the same passion and intensity that has defined Garnett’s career.
“Kevin is a competitive player, one of the best players to ever play this game,” Pierce said. “I expect him to really give everything he’s got every night and continue to build on his legacy. Kevin, what he brings is a lot bigger than what you see, than the numbers.
“You guys look at the numbers and say he does this,” Pierce added. “But as far as his passion, it’s every day, it’s on the court, it’s in the locker room. That’s things that you can’t get in a lot of places in this league.”