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Paul Pierce slams Deron Williams

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, Paul Pierce slams the Nets attitudes, particularly Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, saying he is much happier in Washington with younger players than he was in Brooklyn with vets.

"It was a tough situation (in Brooklyn) last year. Horrible, really.

"It was just the guys' attitudes there. It wasn't like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn't want to play and didn't want to practice. I was looking around saying, 'What's this?' Kevin (Garnett) and I had to pick them up every day in practice.

"If me and Kevin weren't there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day.''

Pierce saved his harshest language for Williams.  "Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,'' Pierce said. "But I felt once we got there, that's not what he wanted to be. He just didn't want that."  Pierce was known to think D-Will took too much time nursing his various injuries, among other issues.

Pierce attributed a lot of D-Will's problems to playing in the big market after starting his career in Salt Lake City. He added that Johnson is quiet, keeps to himself.

"There's a lot of secondary guys on that team. KG and I went there looking at them as the main guys who would push us, because we were advancing in years. But we ended up doing all the pushing.''

The Nets of course traded for Pierce and Kevin Garnett in July of 2013, sending three unprotected first rounders and an unprotected swap of first rounders to Boston in the process. Then, last summer, they declined to re-sign him. According to Nets insiders, Pierce initially wanted $20 million over two years and would have settled for half that, but the Nets declined to pay him.  Their rationale, they said, involved both business --saving money on the luxury tax-- and basketball --giving younger players a chance-- reasons. He signed a two year deal with Washington for $11 million.

Pierce admits he would have stayed in Brooklyn ... despite his feelings toward the club.

"I would have stayed in Brooklyn because of Kevin. I told him, 'I don't really like this situation but I would never leave you if you want me to stay.' But they decided not to re-sign me so I never had to make a choice. I would never have left Kevin like that.''

Later, in a conversation with Rachel Nichols, Pierce backed down a bit...

In an irony of the moment, the report was published just two hours before Pierce and the Wizards lost to the Pacers, putting Indiana in control of the eighth and final playoff seed over the Nets. Pierce was a non-factor in the game, going 0-of-2 in 18 minutes.