Paul Pierce has been with the Celtics since the team drafted him in 1998. But there's a possibility that his time with Boston could come to an end this summer.
The 12-year veteran has the ability to opt out of the final year of his contract -- and the $21.5 million that comes with it -- before midnight Wednesday night (12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday officially marks the beginning of the NBA free agency period), and enter the world as a free agent seeking a longer deal.
So the question is: will he do it?
"I do have doubts," said Danny Ainge last week on WEEI when asked if he thought Pierce would return to finish out his contract. "I'm not certain of what Paul may do. I don't know because he may be able to get a long-term contract somewhere else. It may be better than what we have [to offer]."
SB Nation's CelticsBlog has already provided their take on the matter, believing that Pierce will stay with Boston, even if he does decide to opt out.
If he opts out of his last year to become a free agent, the intent will be to restructure his deal to add years to it. The big value there is the uncertainty of the year after next where the league faces a collective bargaining agreement battle. If there's a prolonged strike or lockout, it could prevent free agents (like Pierce would be if he doesn't restructure his deal) from getting another deal. If the work stoppage lasts all year, all the players could lose a whole year of money and a free agent like Pierce would be that much older.
We'll all know much more come midnight tomorrow night.