Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.
Paul Pierce could return vs. Celtics, has no problem coming off bench eventually if need be
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J, -- There was a surprise participant on the PNY Center court Monday as the Nets prepared for Tuesday's game versus the Celtics.
That would be Paul Pierce.
Pierce practiced for the first time since fracturing his right hand 10 days ago in the first half of the Nets' 114-95 loss to the Rockets in Houston on Nov. 29. The team's original timetable had him out anywhere between two to four weeks, but he strongly hinted he could play against his old team when they meet at the Barclays Center Tuesday.
"There’s a good chance. There's a good chance," Pierce said. "I felt good, didn't really get tested like I would like to get tested, where you get it hit. But I thought I shot the ball really well, got up and down the court at practice today."
To say Pierce is struggling is an understatement. He's shooting a career-worst 36.8 percent from the floor and has connected on only 26.8 percent of his three-pointers.
He's been one of the disappointments on a team that's supposed to contend for a championship after the Nets brought him, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry in, figuring they'd help put them over the top.
"You don't like to lose, you don't like to be injured," Pierce said. "But that’s what I think makes me the player that I am, that I can see the things that make me frustrated and want it even more. I don't get down, I don't go home, I don't sulk. I try to see what I can do to help this team get better, and I always try to stay positive. No matter what the situation is. That's all I can do. That’s all I’ve ever been able to do."
He's no longer the go-to guy he was in Boston and it's no doubt a challenge and an adjustment. But Pierce said he's willing to do anything it takes, even if that means giving is spot up to someone else in the starting rotation.
"I’ll figure it out," Pierce said. "I’ve figured out things throughout the years. I’m not a selfish player. If it’s something that's best for the team and it’s going to help us win ballgames -- whatever it is. If I’ve got to come off the bench, if I’ve got to not play, if I’ve got to be a cheerleader on the sideline. If it's going to help us win, I’m willing to do that."
But wouldn't coming off the bench be a difficult transition?
"I mean, it’s a change," Pierce said. "Everybody's role has got to change for what's good for the team. And you’ve got to understand that. It’s all on the coaches, man. When we come to our huddle, when we talk at the end of practice we all say, 'All in.' I’m all in. If I’ve got to sacrifice whatever I’ve got to sacrifice for the betterment of this team, then I’m willing to do it."
Jason Kidd said he doesn't have any immediate plans to have Pierce come off the bench, and there aren't many other options at this point with Andrei Kirilenko still battling back spasms. But he didn't shoot the premise down completely that it could happen in the future.
"We haven't thought about that," the Nets coach said. "For him, he worked out with the second group today. So being able to see him with that group, that's a possibility. But we haven't gone that way yet. We just wanted to see how he felt going through the workout and see how he feels tomorrow."