Monday, July 22, 2013

Paul Pierce happy to be 'glorified role player' with Nets

There is an "I" in Paul Pierce but, when it comes to the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA star claims there won't be one there this season.

If you look at the old version of the Nets, you might see an NBA squad already loaded with big names — up-and-coming Brook Lopez, one of the best shooting guards in Joe Johnson, and a top point guard in Deron Williams — and wonder how they could fill the roster with any more.

Mix in newcomer veterans Pierce and Kevin Garnett and it now leaves the Nets with a Klieg light-wattage of names on the roster.  Just for fun, throw in other well-known role players like Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko and you've got a cast bigger than Ocean's Twelve.

Now, the former Boston Celtics forward is looking at the makeup of the Nets and claims he is willing to step out of the spotlight with a supporting role with the team as a "glorified role player."

Think DeNiro sharing the bill with Pacino (Okay, D-Will can be Val Kilmer) in Heat.

Pierce told the Boston Globe he's fine with giving up a leading part on the team if it leads to a blockbuster finish at the end of the season.

"There will definitely be less pressure on me on this ball club than there was in Boston," Pierce said. "In Boston, I was the No. 1 primary option. Here we have so many options. We have young All-Stars on this team. My job is to be more of a glorified role player, as Doc [Rivers] used to always say, with the guys we have.

"With my abilities to do so many things, there's going to be nights where I'm not going to score a bunch of points. I can do other things to help this club win. With the combination of these guys, we're going to take pressure off each other."

Pierce — who averaged 18.6 points, 4.8 assists and 6.3 rebounds last season — hasn't been a role player, probably ever, in his basketball life, but isn't ready for the TNT broadcast booth just yet.

The future Hall of Famer could possibly lead this team as a scorer if asked to, and it wouldn't be a desperate move by Jason Kidd. However, to maximize everybody's abilities, the Nets have to get older guys like Pierce and Garnett to sacrifice their own individual games if they are going to save their bodies in the suddenly rough-and-tough NBA East over a long season.

Let's say the Nets decide they need Kirilenko to start at small forward for defensive purposes and bring Pierce off the bench as a scorer, it remains to be seen if Pierce will be open to playing second banana.

And the award for best player in a Nets supporting role goes to ...

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