It is kind of hard to believe that Paul Pierce(notes) will be entering his 13th NBA season this year. Other than an early 2000s adoption of a headband and a slow but sure regression of his hairline, Pierce looks like the same guy drafted 10th overall in 1998. Nonetheless, the reality is that Paul Pierce is an old guy in NBA terms, and it's likely his most recent contract — four years, $61 million — will be his last in the NBA. And there's the catch, the NBA part.
As I'm sure you know, outside of the NBA, there are several other professional basketball leagues of varying quality. It's not uncommon for former NBA players to play in these leagues, which is exactly what Pierce plans to do after his NBA days are done. From CSNPhilly.com:
"As far as retiring from the NBA, I think I will be done after this contract because eventually I want to go overseas and play and live for a couple of years. That's why this is a big contract for me, knowing I'm going to retire a Boston Celtic. I want to go to either Italy or Greece for a year. I think I want to be able to bring my family over to just kind of share a different experience overseas for a couple of years, before I settle into retirement."
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Nice plan. Usually the guys that head overseas when they're done in the NBA are the guys hard up for money. Considering Pierce will have made more than $180 million by the time he's done, that's probably not the case. He just wants to chill and hang out in the Mediterranean with his family, which seems like an awesome plan. Not to mention, he'll only be 36 when his contract ends — assuming the Celtics pick up his last non-guaranteed year — meaning he'll still be able to be a meaningful contributor, which means he'll get a better deal. Not bad at all.
It's no customized, talking Skittles machine, but being able to choose to play basketball overseas while hanging out with your family and still being young and valuable is a big-time power move. Big ups, Paul Pierce.