Nets returns for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett in question - Metro US

Nets returns for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett in question

Paul Pierce Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett may both be absent from the Nets next season.
Credit: Getty Images

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett did not speak to the media Thursday but that doesn’t mean their names weren’t a popular discussion topic.

The Nets gave up three first-round draft picks and added a combined salary of $27.7 million to acquire Pierce and Garnett.

However, for all the money spent and all the draft picks surrendered they may get only 12 playoff games and one season from the future Hall of Famers.

Pierce is a free agent on July 1 and if the Nets re-sign him they can circumvent the salary cap by using their “Bird Rights,” meaning they can offer him more money than any other team. After Wednesday’s loss, Pierce said he felt he had one or two years left in him, though did not offer an indication if that would be in Brooklyn.

Garnett turns 38 on Monday after appearing in a career-low 54 games and averaging a career-worst 6.5 points per game while averaging 20.5 minutes.

For the Nets it might disappointing not getting another year out of the two, especially considering what they gave up.

“It will be a little disappointing because the first year is kind of an experience and we didn’t really know each other as a team,” Joe Johnson said. “Now I think we all have an understanding of who we are as a team and individuals and it can only help us out. We’ll see.”

Livingston talks free agency

Had things gone differently in his career, Shaun Livingston might have already had his first big payday.

Instead that contract might come this summer, after Livingston went from a reserve guard to a starter whose length helped the Nets immensely on both ends of the floor in the second half of the season.

Livingston signed with the Nets last summer for a minimum contract of $1.27 million and the most they can offer him is a three-year, $10 contract under the taxpayer mini-midlevel exception under provisions of the CBA.

The Nets have gone on record saying retaining Livingston is their top priority but that might be tough after he averaged 8.3 points in a career-high 76 games, including 54 starts.

Livingston was on a playoff team for the first time since being on the 2006 Clippers, which might factor into his first trip at real NBA free agency.

“It was six or seven years that I was on losing teams and just missed the playoffs — rebuilding situations,” Livingston said. “So you think about it just going through those rough times and then you’re playing against friends who you came into the league with and they’re playing in the playoffs every year, guys that you feel like you can maybe take their spot or you can be in that role. Everything happens for a reason. I believe that.”

The biggest question might be what happens if a losing, or even mediocre, team offers him a more lucrative deal.

“That definitely plays a role for me,” Livingston said. “My situation is backwards for me. Usually guys get a chance to be really a free agent for the first time early [in your career]. For me I kind of missed out on that time. But I’m 28, 29, you know in the prime. I’d like to win. That’s my goal.”

Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.

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