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Stein: Paul Pierce signs with Washington Wizards for full MLE after Brooklyn Nets "pass" on him

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a shocking development, Paul Pierce has decided against rejoining the Nets and will instead sign a two-year deal with the Washington Wizards for the full MLE. According to various reports, the Nets simply decided to pass on re-signing Pierce out of financial considerations. Mark Stein first reported the news.

Stein did not initially provide details and early attempts to reach the Nets failed. However, other writers are suggesting the Nets simply passed on re-signing him.

As reported by NetsDaily and others, the Nets believe they can still be competitive with a "core" of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, two of whom are recovering from surgery. One official said that ownership remains committed to building a "super franchise" and the moves to reduce costs is not an indication they have pulled back from that commitment.

The Nets reportedly were ready to offer Pierce between $6 million and $8 million while Pierce wanted between $9 million and $10 million. However, Billy King repeatedly emphasized that the Nets wanted to be "financially responsible" and others within the organization said that the level of spending last season could not be "sustained in the future," with the Nets liable for the repeater tax if they are over the tax threshold by the end of the 2014-15 season.

The Nets paid out nearly $200 million in salary, luxury taxes and amnesty payments this past season and if they had carried a $100 million payroll into next season, the bill could have been just as higher or higher. Even with Pierce moving on, the Nets still have $90 million guaranteed salaries this season and that's before signing Bojan Bogdanovic and Markel Brown, both of which are expected this week.

The Nets also want to get more flexibility going forward, say team officials, with the hope that they can get under the luxury tax threshold and regain the right to sign-and-trade for players, use the full MLE and the BAE, all of which are denied them because of their high payroll.

The question now is what does Kevin Garnett do. Lionel Hollins raised the possibility Friday that KG may not want to return to the Nets. He is on the books for $12 million. Tim Bontemps reports that the Nets expect Garnett back.

The move essentially renders the Boston trade of last summer a huge mistake for the Nets organization. The team gave up three first round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, as well as a swap of picks in 2017 for the two Hall of Famers. Moreover, it comes two weeks after Jason Kidd asked to leave the organization, then joined the Bucks.

The Wizards were never reported to be on Pierce's radar following his one season with the Nets. By signing with the Wizards, he has insured that the Nets will get nothing in return, unlike if he had signed with the Clippers, who would have to signed and traded Pierce. In an S&T, the Nets would have had to take on additional salary.