Paul Pierce has as good a basketball nickname as you can get — he’s “The Truth.” Over the course of his Hall of Fame career, Pierce has consistently added sheen to the self-explanatory nickname. Owner of a championship ring and some legit claims to being the best player in the world for a time, Pierce shows up and does the things a star is supposed to do. He backs up what he says — and teammates love him. That’s why he’s on the roster for the Los Angeles Clippers, playing out his twilight for Doc Rivers, the coach who guided him to his ring in Boston (2008).
But do the 9-1 Clippers — now #1 in the NBA power rankings — really need him anymore? Pierce hasn’t played this season due to an ankle injury and the Clippers are obviously rolling. Will there be room in Doc’s rotation for the 39-year-old Pierce when he returns? Or might Pierce’s greatest legacy as a Clipper be the role he played in making sure DeAndre Jordan stayed with the team? (That’s no small contribution btw, and Pierce was critical.) Pierce averaged a career low 18 minutes per game last year with LA, but played in 68 games. This year the Clippers have plenty of firepower without him. They’ve also found a winning way, which is part of Pierce’s presence is supposed to deliver. He’s still important to the team — but does he have to play to help?