Nets Acquire Jack, Still Waiting to Bring Back 'The Truth'
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Billy King hired his new head coach last week, and officially landed his veteran point guard on Thursday morning.
But the Nets’ general manager is still waiting to see if future Hall of Famer and former NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce will be back in Brooklyn next season.
King survived Jason Kidd’s well-chronicled power play earlier this month, luring former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins Downtown with a four-year pact.
On Thursday, Jarrett Jack became Deron Williams’ backup and potential back court mate after King consummated a three-team swap with Cleveland and Boston for the nine-year pro.
That gives the Nets a starting lineup of Williams, Joe Johnson, possibly Jack, Kevin Garnett and …..
Well, the player most likely to be the fifth starter is still holding his cards close to the vest, literally.
Pierce, who delivered the “Swat Heard ‘Round in the World’ to help the Nets survive a thrilling seven-game first-round playoff series with Toronto this past season, has been hedging his bets in Las Vegas, participating in the World Series of Poker.
Though he has yet to indicate whether he will be a Net in 2015-16 and beyond, the 36-year-old Pierce is raking in a little extra cash in Sin City this summer, upwards of $60,000, according to his own tweets. That will go in the bank with the $15.3 million the Nets paid him last season.
There were rumors circulating earlier this month that the Los Angeles native might wind up with the Clippers, rejoining former Boston head coach Doc Rivers in Tinseltown.
But L.A. didn’t have anything attractive to offer the Nets in a potential sign-and-trade, leaving Pierce to play his cards and King to re-shuffle his deck after Kidd’s failed bid to usurp his power.
Now, Pierce is likely waiting for big-money free agents like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James to choose a home before he makes his ‘Decision’ regarding the Nets.
In his first season in Brooklyn following last summer’s blockbuster deal that sent both he and Garnett to the Nets, Pierce averaged career lows of 13.5 points and 28 minutes per game.
But his impact on the Nets, both in the locker room and on the court, was undeniable, as was Garnett’s.
The tandem won a championship together in Boston in 2008 and reached the Finals in 2010 with the Celtics. Their collective experience and toughness in big games gave the Nets some of the resiliency and grit necessary to survive a Game 7 in Toronto before Brooklyn fell in five games to eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami.
Pierce and Garnett also provided the glue for a team that easily could have fallen apart after losing 21 of its first 31 games under a neophyte head coach who appeared to be well beyond his depth before Jan. 1 rolled around.
With Lopez out for the season due to injury, Garnett slid into the center’s spot and Pierce took on all comers at power forward, rather than his customary swing man’s position.
The result: A 34-19 mark after New Year’s Day and the sixth seed in the East, which got Brooklyn into a first-round encounter with the Atlantic Division champion Raptors.
Both Garnett and Pierce were instrumental in helping Brooklyn steal Games 1 and 7 on Toronto’s home floor, wiping away the memory of a Game 7 loss at Barclays Center to Chicago in the opening round just one year earlier.
The sticking point in whether or not Pierce comes back is reportedly the length of the deal.
Several print and internet sources indicate that the 2008 Finals MVP is looking for a two-year deal in the $20 million range, while the Nets may want to stick to a single season at a slightly higher price or two years at approximately $9 million per annum.
Once the dust clears from New York’s “Melo-Drama” and James’ Decision II, Pierce and the Nets should have a better idea of exactly where both parties stand.
With Garnett reportedly in the fold next season as per his $12 million option year, it would seem likely that Pierce will also be back in Brooklyn come November as the two have been joined at the hip since “The Big Ticket” went to Beantown in 2007.
"I think we're in the process," King intimated last week when asked about the Pierce negotiations in a local radio interview.
"We know the number we want to get to, I think they know the number they want to get to,” he added. “We're just trying to get to the point where we're all comfortable and I know what we're trying to accomplish, and it's just in the negotiation process. That's all it is. We have the ability to pay him more than everybody else, but we are going to be a little bit more financially responsible at this point in time."
Pierce continues to remain mum on the matter.
As any good card players knows, there’s no need to tip your hand before it’s called.
Jack got his first taste of the New York media in a teleconference Thursday afternoon.
The Georgia Tech alum officially became a Net, along with guard/forward Sergey Karasev, via Cleveland as part of a three-team trade, which also included the Celtics.
In exchange, Brooklyn sent guard Marcus Thornton to Boston, as well as the draft rights to Ilkan Karaman, Christian Drejer and Edin Bavcic to Cleveland.
Additionally, the Celtics received center/forward Tyler Zeller and a first-round draft pick from the Cavaliers, while sending a conditional second-round pick to Cleveland.
Jack will likely be asked to fill the spot vacated by Shaun Livingston, who was lured to Golden State this summer, accepting a three-year, $16 million deal from the Warriors.
“Players have to prove themselves when the time comes,” Jack noted when asked how well he expects to fit in with the Nets. “I play hard and am just going to try to bring it every night.”
Jack indicated that he didn’t yet know if he was going to be asked to start or come off the bench, but did reveal he had chatted with fellow point guard Williams upon learning that he was coming to Brooklyn.
"Jarrett is a proven NBA veteran who will add versatility to our backcourt," noted King in a team-issued statement.
"The team had a need in that area and we are excited that we were able to secure Jarrett to fill that role. Sergey is a player who we have followed closely for several years. He is a versatile forward and will be a welcome addition to our roster."
Jack played 80 games (31 starts) last season for the Cavaliers, averaging 9.5 points, 4.1 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game.
The 6-foot-3 guard has played in 691 career games for Portland, Indiana, Toronto, New Orleans, Golden State and the Cavs, with career averages of 10.9 points, 4.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.