Paul Pierce: One, two more years left

MIAMI -- Paul Pierce's first season with the Brooklyn Nets is over.

And the veteran forward isn't sure if it will be his last in Brooklyn, either.

Pierce said after the Miami Heat's series-clinching 96-94 Game 5 win over the Nets that he believes he still has a year or two left in his tank. Where the unrestricted free agent-to-be will play next is uncertain.

"I haven't really put much thought into it," Pierce said of what his future holds and if he wants to remain a Net. "I put my whole focus into this season, it's my last year of the contract. I will sit back and talk to the family and see where my options are from there and go from there."

Pierce, 36, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Nets own his Bird Rights, which allows them to offer him more money than any other team.

"I think I still have something in the tank I can give a team," he added. "Maybe one or two (years) at the most."

Kevin Garnett, 37, has one year remaining on his contract but has contemplated retirement in the past. Garnett did not speak after the game.

Pierce and Garnett did not speak to reporters at the team's final gathering at the Nets' practice facility on Thursday in East Rutherford, N.J.

General manager Billy King said he will talk to Pierce about his future in the next few days. He spoke with Garnett on the team's flight home from Miami on Wednesday evening and said they will revisit his future later.

"We'll talk again," King said. "There's no need for an answer now. Paul is a free agent and obviously we want him back. So come July 1, we'll start that process.

"I'm not writing those guys off that they're not coming back. I know that's the easy story to write, but I think they gave a lot to us, and I think we gave a lot to them, and we're going to do our best to bring them back."

Jason Kidd, who persuaded Garnett and Pierce to accept a trade to the Nets last summer, said it's "a fair question" to wonder how much Garnett will factor in that his game isn't where it used to be when considering his future.

"We don't have the luxury of being able to do this forever," Kidd said. "He's done it for a long time at a very high level and the biggest thing and concerns that I've talked to him about is you don't want to leave with someone carrying you off the court. And that's fair for him.

"I mean it's 19 or 20 years that he'll be playing and also being judged on what you've done or some people holding you to where if you were 25, which can be unfair at times ... So he's got to make a decision, but the big thing is we want him back because we understand the importance that he brings to this franchise."

LeBron James graciously credited his longtime rivals for challenging him to become a better player and nudging him to eventually join the Heat.

"When I was in Cleveland, that was a hump I couldn't get over," James said of Pierce, Garnett and the Celtics. "And I knew from that point I needed some help... Cause I felt like I would face those guys. I don't know if they thought I would go seek help. But I did.

"For me to be in this position today, those guys challenged me and they helped me become the person and player I am today," he continued. "It helped our team become a team because they challenge you with so many facets. Even as weird as it is, seeing them in black and white, you still see green on them. You still see green on Paul. You still see green on KG. And those guys have a championship DNA and to be able to compete in those guys in a series is the ultimate for a competitor."

The Nets made a blockbuster trade last summer to acquire Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans and three first-round draft picks (2014, 2016 and 2018). The goal was for Pierce and Garnett to complement a core that included Deron Williams and Joe Johnson and help the Nets get past the Heat and win a title.

But the Nets, trying to mesh new pieces which also included a rookie head coach in Jason Kidd, got off to a tumultuous 10-21 start. They lost Brook Lopez for the season and lost Pierce and Williams for stints due to injuries.

The Nets turned their season around after Jan. 1 and finished 44-38. Pierce averaged a career-low 13.5 points and 28 minutes a game as Kidd tried to keep his former Celtics vets fresh for the postseason.

"Unfortunately, we wish we had put together a better record," Pierce said. "But it's a brand new team, a lot of new players, got off to a slow start, a lot of injuries but we figured it out. Not where we want it to end today. Obviously the goal is to win a championship. But I am happy to go to war with the guys in here and the resolve they showed all year long."

Pierce's signature moment as a Net came in Game 7 of the first round against Toronto when he made a series-clinching block on Kyle Lowry to help the Nets advance to face the Heat.

Now he faces a second straight offseason of uncertainty surrounding his future.

"When I get a chance, sit back and really get my thinking hat on, I will figure out what's next," Pierce said. "We came up short on our goal."

"Although we didn't accomplish our goals, you got to learn from it and see coming in next year, whether I will be here, or guys coming in, they got to understand that this is the precedent that we set. So going forward, for the organization, making the first round last year, making the second round, I think the organization is heading in the right direction."