Celtics captain Paul Pierce told reporters gathered at Media Day that he plans to retire with Kevin Garnett at the end of his teammate's new three-year deal.
Pierce will earn $16.8 million over the 2012-13 NBA season, but the $15.3 million left on his deal the following year is a team option.
"I don’t see it as any additional pressure," said Pierce, 34. "I’m continuing to approach each and every season like I’ve approached it from Day 1. Hopefully, I can be around next year and the year after. The goal is to hopefully retire with Kevin. He just recently signed a three-year deal, so I see my career kind of ending along the path of his.
"But I don’t see any pressure. The pressure I’m putting on myself is far greater than anybody can put on me. I expect to go out and perform well every year, I expect to go out and play at a high level, and I expect to go out here and be one of the best players in the NBA every year that I step out here."
After mulling retirement over the summer, Garnett signed a team-friendly contract worth $36 million over the next three seasons. Pierce claimed he also considered retirement if Garnett had decided not to return.
"This is it for me," Garnett told Pierce at times last season.
"If you're going to retire," Pierce replied each time, "then I'm going to retire."
But then Pierce started thinking: "Kevin’s been in the NBA since he was 18. He doesn’t know anything else. What’s he going to do? He has to come back. ... This is in his blood. This is what he was born to do. For him to be playing at a high level, to walk away from the game, and with his competitive spirit, I knew he wasn’t going anywhere."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers had the same gut feeling about Garnett's future. In fact, he never took Garnett or Pierce's retirement threats seriously. "Paul wouldn’t have retired," he said. "I saw his contract, and I don’t think he was going to retire."
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