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Paul Pierce's decision could be lynchpin of Brooklyn Nets off-season

Mike Ehrmann

Paul Pierce was non-committal about returning to the Nets next season the night the Nets lost to the Heat in Miami ending their season.  He said he expects to play another one, maybe two years left, but wouldn't say if he expects to play in Brooklyn.

As Ohm Youngmisuk writes Thursday, Pierce will have options and a lot of what he decides could effect how the rest of the team's off-season plays out.  The Nets have his Bird Rights and can pay him whatever the two sides can agree to. The best guess is that Pierce may want somewhere between $8 and $10 million over two.

If the price is too high, the Nets might had to think about it. They could very well end up in repeater tax territory next season, and at some point that starts to matter. If this season's Nets roster was subject to the repeater tax, Mikhail Prokhorov's luxury tax bill would have been $133 million last season, not $89 millon.

Youngmisuk details other positives for the Nets besides money, including that Pierce likes New York. It should also be noted, that the former Celtic sold his longtime home outside Boston when he was traded to Brooklyn and moved his family into a Manhattan apartment, where he pays $35,000 a month.

The big issues, notes the ESPN writer, is what his long-time teammate Kevin Garnett does. If he stays, the likelihood is that Pierce stays, but if he retires, Pierce is probably going to wait-and-see what the Nets do and compare that with other options.  Youngmisuk thinks it will be a close call, quoting those on and around the team. If he doesn't stay, the Nets would have to find a replacement and that won't be easy. Moreover, if he and KG both leave, it will make the Boston blockbuster trade of last summer even more of a subject for debate.