Pierce to Hang it Up?

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Wizards veteran Paul Pierce told reporters Friday night he’s not sure if he will return next year for his 18th NBA season

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Pierce said, following the Wizards 94-91 loss to the Atlanta Hawks that eliminated Washington from the playoffs. “I don’t even know if I am going to play basketball anymore. These seasons get harder and harder every year, every day. Summers get even harder when you start getting back in shape. I’m 37 years old. I’m top two or three oldest in the league.”

Perhaps it wasn’t the best time to ask Pierce about his future in basketball, as he was still feeling the sting after officials waved off his apparent game-tying 3-point shot at the buzzer. Asked what he thought as he walked off the court after the game, Pierce said he wondered if he can reach this level anymore.

“Truthfully, what was going through my mind, I don’t have too much more of these efforts left, if any,” Pierce said. “These rides throughout the NBA season and throughout the playoffs are very emotional. They take a lot, not only out of your body, but your mind, your spirit.

“They are very emotional. It affects not only you but the people around you on days like this. You go home and you are around your family and you don’t feel like talking to them or doing anything because of what the game does — it takes a bite out of you. I don’t think a lot of people understand that. … It affects the people around you.”

Pierce will be 38 in October, which is ancient by NBA standards. And while he showed in the playoffs he can still play at a high level, averaging 14.6 points per game this postseason, he’s clearly not the elite player he was in his days with the Celtics when he was a 10-time All-Star.

Pierce has a $5.5 million option year left on his contract with the Wizards. He says he’ll talk with his family before deciding whether to return.

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