Plenty of things appear to motivate Paul Pierce these days.
Lifting the Brooklyn Nets to an NBA championship after the Inglewood native infuriated plenty of Laker fans during his 15-years with the Boston Celtics. Adapting to a new city. And apparently staying in the NBA past one certain Lakers superstar.
“My goal is to outlast [Tim] Duncan, Kobe [Bryant], Dirk [Nowitzki], and KG, this is what’s left of that generation,” Paul recently told The Boston Globe. “I’m looking at all of them. We all are kind of in the same boat where [retirement] can happen in the next year or two. Vince [Carter] is in there. He’s still playing. They still look strong, so I want to continue to look strong.”
It’s safe to presume Bryant feels the same way.
He had hinted last year that he would retire once his contract expires following this season, which will pay him a league-leading $30.5 million. But ever since suffering a season-ending torn left Achilles tendon April 12 against the Golden State Warriors, Bryant has changed his sentiment. He told Lakers.com in June that he could play at “least another three years,” a variable former Lakers forward Metta World Peace believed contributed to Dwight Howard leaving for the Houston Rockets.
Nonetheless, Bryant and the Lakers haven’t started negotiating yet considering it remains to be seen how he will look once he fully rehabs from his injury, let alone return to the court. Because of the harsher tax penalties and limited moves teams can make for spending over the threshold, it’s likely Bryant would have to take a paycut. Though it remains unclear to what degree he would so for the sake of helping the Lakers have more financial resources to land top players.
Still, Bryant told comedian Jimmy Kimmel last week at the Nokia Theatre that he wants to be a Laker for life, presumably as long as his body allows him. And at that time, Bryant and Pierce will then discover which one outlasts the other.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org