Is Paul Pierce to blame for the Nets struggles?

What about the out of focus guy?
First off, I'd like to point out that I personally do not believe Paul Pierce is the main culprit in Brooklyn.  Heading into the season Pierce should have been expected to be no more than the #4 option behind Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez; and the failures of a team's fourth best scorer can't possibly be the difference between contending for a title and the lottery.  In my opinion, the Nets' biggest gaffe was hiring a rookie head coach with no credentials to lead a veteran squad with a very short window of opportunity.

However, this Sports on Earth article entitled "Paul Pierce's Fall" suggests the former Celtics captain's decline in play is the primary reason for Brooklyn's terrible start.  Here are some quotes:

The major problem for the Nets isn't Williams and Lopez missing time, but the play of Pierce... Pierce has the third-highest salary on the Nets because he's a scorer, a pure finisher who scored more points in a Celtics uniform than anyone but John Havlicek...  
No longer is Pierce carrying his teammates on the offensive end. No longer is he beautiful in the paint, finding space among hacking arms and suffocating defenses. No longer is he hitting those open threes, where his feet barely seem to lift off the ground. He's struggling just to have positive impact while on the floor. This is not the same player who carried the Celtics legacy on his shoulders for 14 seasons. This version looks lost in the wilderness, searching for his game, that innate ability he once had to carry teams through tough times... 
Pierce has become a liability, like a fighter in the ring past his prime, looking for that one last break, that last knockout.

It's hard to argue with the author's point, Pierce is averaging career lows in both FG% (.401) and 3PT% (.341).  But it's also completely ridiculous to expect a fifteen-year veteran to carry the burden on a club laden with All-Stars still in their prime.

RELATED: Did Boston deal Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce at exactly the right time?

Follow Mark Vandeusen on twitter @LucidSportsFan