Granted, it’s still the preseason and involves the two most likely contenders coming out of the west, but shots have been fired between former (and likely future) Celtic Paul Pierce and the Golden State Warriors Draymond Green. Pierce, who is gunning for one more ring with the Los Angeles Clippers in a weakened western conference, had some choice words about Green’s newest teammate, Kevin Durant, who is sure to be a lightning rod after spurning several suitors this summer, the Celtics among them:
Green, seemingly tired of addressing comments around the league well before the start of a regular season that likely won't relent on offering similar opinions any time soon (barring, perhaps, an underwhelming start from the newly-anointed superteam), did not pull any punches in his response to Pierce's comments, as noted by the San Jose Mercury News's Anthony Slater:
"I just wonder at what point do they get bored talking about the same thing. You got all these guys talking. Like (Paul) Pierce today, like, dude nobody care what you did or who you did it for. Just give it a break. Everybody got something to say and want to take everything he say and twist it. Like, he play with the Warriors. OKC has their team, we have our team. He left there."
For Green, the decision was strictly business, which would make sense for someone with a point of view at odds with Pierce's, particularly in light of the Ray Allen decampment. As has been noted by us previously, loyalty is a complicated animal in the NBA, which thrives off the competitive spirit of its players and fans, but also has a bottom line to consider.
Such fiscal exigencies were behind Danny Ainge repeatedly dangling Allen in trade talks, which were reportedly a major factor in his departure. Yet, oddly enough, neither fiscal or competitive concerns seem to be the primary reason for Durant decamping to the Warriors.
KD cites "potential for my contribution and personal growth" as his main motive, but it would be foolish to believe championship opportunities were also not a factor. He wisely kept any such sentiments to himself, aware his past words might haunt him if it were public knowledge his motives extended beyond an unassailable desire to become a better player:
Now everybody wanna play for the heat and the Lakers? Let's go back to being competitive and going at these peoples!— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 16, 2010
Dredging up the past can often be uncomfortable, and not just to Durant or Green. It isn't a good look to make a move you publicly decried at an earlier moment in your career, and Durant is not on that island by himself - arguments can be made Pierce himself has made (or nearly made) similar - if less contentious - moves.
While few people would call the Wizards demise in the 2014-15 Eastern Conference Semifinals and Pierce's subsequent flight to the Clippers ring-chasing on the same scale as Durant, particularly in light of the lack of the "joining the enemy" wrinkle, the import of competitiveness becomes at least a little suspect, especially when, as others have noted, Pierce himself threatened to leave Boston if he didn't get the supporting cast he deserved:
In 2007, there were reports that Pierce was going to demand a trade if C's couldn't get a star free agent there.— KJ_NBA (@KJ_NBA) October 14, 2016
Ultimately, the basketball gods prevented us from having to see whether those reports were merely a bargaining tactic or legitimate threat, much to the joy of Boston fans and the chagrin of everyone else. And I am by no means suggesting players should not have the right to play wherever they desire once their contract obligations are up - they absolutely should.
But if you make your opinions known on the subject, don't be surprised if people remind you of your words, and hold you accountable for them later in your career. And, conversely, if you actually do pull the trigger and join another team - particularly one that beat you in the post season - don't be surprised when it goes over like a sack of bricks.
For those of you are uncomfortably finding yourself agreeing with Draymond (at least on the getting bored with talking abut the same thing part, anyway), the regular season starts in just over two weeks, and we can put these kinds of exchanges behind us.
We probably won't, though.
Pierce photo via Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn Justin Quinn 10/14/2016 01:53:00 PM Tweet Edit