While reports differed on Friday as to whether or not the fourth year was guaranteed, one thing that seemingly everyone could agree on was that Paul Pierce had indeed reached a new deal with the Celtics. But now, "according to sources with firsthand knowledge of the negotiations," there has not yet been an agreement between the two sides, and Friday saw "little progress made."
The Pierce camp would like a four-year, fully guaranteed deal at about $15 million per season, but the Celtics are haggling as to whether to fully guarantee the fourth year, which would end the contract when Pierce is 36.
The sides have been talking since Pierce opted out of the final year of his contract, worth $21.5 million, late Tuesday night. Pierce, according to those close to the situation, has not negotiated with another club. The sides can only agree on a deal at this point; free agent contracts cannot be officially signed until July 8.
But we already know that Pierce has not negotiated with any other teams, so should this be a point of concern for Celtics fans? CelticsBlog says no.
I fully expect the two sides to reach an agreement before July 8 (when free agents can officially sign with teams), and I wouldn't even be horribly opposed to the fourth year being guaranteed, as long as Pierce knows he might be part of a rebuilding process in the last one or two years of the deal (unless Ainge can rebuild on the fly over the course of the next few years, with Pierce obviously taking a lesser role as new players are brought in. I certainly wouldn't be shocked if Danny found a way to make that work).
In terms of cap space in four years, as of right now, if Pierce does sign a deal that would pay him roughly $15 million per season, only his and Rondo's contracts would be on the payroll, totaling about $27 million. Even though a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will be negotiated on at the end of next season, if the salary cap heading into the 2013-2014 season resembles anything close to the projected $56 million salary cap for next season, the C's will still have about $30 million in cap space to sign other players. But, it seems safe to say other moves will take place in between now and then, so I'm sure we'll see more than just Rondo and Pierce signed to deals at that point.
Will the Celtics be overpaying for Pierce in three of four years? Perhaps. But, I don't think it's outlandish to say Pierce has at least two very good seasons left in him, if not three, depending on how kind Father Time is to him. So, for the next two years you could argue that the C's are getting Pierce at a quality price, and he's still going to serve as one of the key cogs for a team that seems to be aiming towards remaining contenders for the championship for at least the next two seasons.