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Why The C’s Need Mickael Pietrus: The Three-Ball

 

My one run-in with Mickael Pietrus came last year before a Celtics-Magic game at the TD Garden. I was waiting in the Orlando locker room for media availability before the game and watched Pietrus smuggle in a McDonald’s bag roughly an hour and a half before gametime.

In a related story, the Magic were blown out that night.

This kind of lasting image does not inspire confidence in me about the athletic swingman. Now though, Mickael Pietrus is on his way out of Phoenix, and according to Paul Coro’s column from The Arizona Republic he may not have even wanted to be there in the first place, even before he was traded to Toronto, as Phoenix officials took a few parting shots at Mikael on his way out the door:

“Both Mickael and us realized it’d be beneficial for both parties to party ways,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. “There’s an expression that, ‘All’s well that ends well.’ In this case, all’s well that ends.”

“He was really our kind of player — a big guy who can shoot,” Suns Coach Alvin Gentry said. “In order for it to be a good fit, you’ve got to want to be here and I’m not sure he was every fully engaged about being here.

The feeling was apparently mutual from the athletic swingman as well, who was taking shots against the team he was under contract with for one more season this summer. (L’Equpie)

“Phoenix didn’t use me, but that’s their problem. I’m going to continue working. The only thing I care about is winning a title… A lot of teams are interested in me, like the Lakers or the Celtics. This came from the best player in the world: Kobe Bryant. He told me two months ago that he would like to see me with the Lakers.”

The fact Pietrus may have been angling for a run with Boston as early as this summer has to come as encouraging news to C’s fans. The need for offense off the bench is as glaring as ever in Beantown, and Doc, Danny and company can sell him on a major offensive role with this team off the bench, while reuniting with former Orlando teammates Brandon Bass and Keyon Dooling to help advance the chemistry with the second unit.

Assuming Air France arrives in Boston over the weekend, what exactly can C’s fans expect from Pietrus? Will they “use” him right and make everyone happy?

Pietrus is primarily a one-trick pony on offense, as Ryan explained earlier today and that trick isn’t even that good: Long distance shooting. He developed into a bit of three-point hucker in Stan Van Gundy’s offense that strongly emphasized the trey, after a more well-rounded offensive start to his career in Golden State.

Pietrus took nearly two-thirds of his shots from beyond the arc last year,  and made just over 34 percent of them, below the league average. He also took 40 percent of them in spot-up situations, meaning nearly a quarter of those treys came off the dribble….yikes.

So where’s the good news you ask? The C’s need three-point shooting and need it desperately. Having lost Jeff Green for the year, the only proven three-point shooters on the roster remain Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Keyon Dooling (35 percent career shooter) can shoot the trey a bit, but he’ll be more occupied with trying to run an offense with the second unit.

E’Twaun Moore is another candidate and has shown the range during the preseason, but as a rookie, he will have to work his way into Doc’s rotation and trust, a process that could take awhile.

With this limited cast of characters, the C’s themselves are in dire need of someone capable of shooting the three-ball on a regular basis. Despite being 11th in 3-point shooting percentage last year in the NBA, they shot only 13.8 treys per game, good for only 28th in the league overall and more than four attempts below the league average of 18.

For a team that struggles to put the ball in the hoop regularly, the lack of regular firepower from three is a big reason why. The C’s know they need more threats in this department to help increase their scoring, while also helping them to spread the floor with their offense.

With Pietrus averaging more than four three-point attempts a game, Air France is at the very least, a reliable threat in this department, something the second unit desperately needs.

One other thing about Pietrus is that he is also a very streaky shooter, and a playoff tested one, as shown by his 38.5 percent shooting from downtown in Orlando’s NBA Finals run in 2009. He followed that up with an even more impressive 45.9 percent number in Orlando’s playoff run that ended against the C’s in the 2010 season.

Doc Rivers and company are most likely dreaming of the possibilities of endless open looks for Pietrus off dribble penetration from Rajon Rondo’s in hopes he can put up nights like this.

Now make no mistake, it’s not all sunny news on this 6-6 29-year old. Pietrus is an average rebounder, can’t create his own shot, has developed a bit of a selfish reputation as an offensive player, has poor handle and by all accounts, doesn’t have great intangibles.

Still, if the C’s sign him, he easily becomes the best swingman (off the bench) on their roster (when healthy) and given the team some much needed depth at the 2/3 spot. He’s also another athletic body to throw at LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and company on the perimeter.

If Doc has any hopes of keeping Paul and Ray’s minutes down this year, they need to bring a guy like Pietrus in. We should find out within a day or two whether this seemingly good match becomes a reality, and make the C’s rotation a little more formidable.

  • phreesh

    "Pietrus is an average rebounder, can’t create his own shot, has developed a bit of a selfish reputation as an offensive player, has poor handle and by all accounts, doesn’t have great intangibles.

    Still, if the C’s sign him, he easily becomes the best swingman on their roster…"

    Those two sentences, back-to-back, have got to depress any Celtics fan.

    • janos

      Hi PHeesh, is Janos
      When discuss NBA Celtics is coom mistake look at weakest link. Best look at strongest link.

  • IBleedGreen

    Wait out and get JR Smith when he returns from China.

    • Los

      I keep secretly hoping that happens but somehow I don't think JR is going to want what the Celtics are offering in terms of salary

  • Robert

    Can Pietrus still jump reasonably well? I remember he was a pretty good alley oop finisher, at one point.

  • Sam

    Did you mean best bench swingman, because Pierce and Ray might have an argument there…

  • John V

    I think it's an absolute no-brainer to try to sign him and I don't get the reluctance from some other Cs fans. No, he doesn't create his own shot. Who cares? When did Posey ever create his own shot? Or Bruce Bowen for the Spurs? Shane Battier? There's only one ball, and I like having it in the point guard's hands as much as possible until the shot's going up. What Pietrus gives, aside from the 3-ball, is defense. Do we remember that? The thing the Cs used to build their foundation on?

    Pietrus is capable of playing defense better than anyone the Cs could get at five times the price (not that they're able to spend five times the price), and better than some even pricier, like Jeff Green and, probably, Paul Pierce.

    What's the goal this year? To win a lot of regular season games and not have any drama? Or to try to win a championship? Pietrus can slow down LeBron (and Luol Deng). What else needs to be said?

    • ElRoz

      agreed – they need him. period.

      but how is his knee?

  • ElRoz

    I say if his knee is ok..if he can play, then Boston needs him as a back-up SF for defense as much as his 3-pointers…as a Posey type spot-up shooter-defender to play along with Marquis at SG, Dolling, Stiemsma, Wilcox…that would be an pretty good defensive bench. Pietrus can come in with energy and play active defense.
    (I'm counting Bass as a semi-starter).

  • janos

    Hey Bryan, is Janos
    What food that guy get from mcdonalds?

  • smalltownID

    Wow, I thought I liked Pietrus at Pheonix. Are you serious? Hitting wide open 3's and pointing at your chest? Not a fan. Do your job and act like it's not the first time. This is a sad reality to see us wonting for a guy like that. I hope we don't get him. At least when Eddie was getting all riled up it was because he was getting off shots only Ray Allen could get off other than he.

    • red

      if we get Pietrus then Doc doesn`t develop our young players and we are stuck with them not being ready when we need them.
      We need to develop our prospects this year the upside is so much more if we do.While i would like pietrus i know if we sign him Doc will forget about developing our young guys again

  • jonathan

    I say the Celtics trade Jermaine+Moore for JJ Hickson/Jason Thompson+Marcus Thorton from the Kings. Thorton can create his own shot, something the Celtics desperately need. Hickson or Thompson would give an extra big off the bench, who can both rebound and score. It'd hurt losing Moore, but he can't create his own shot.

    • I_Love_Green

      Just texted Ainge that idea, he's all over it.

  • BIG DADDY1978

    on wikipedia it said pietrus is on the team all ready

  • I_Love_Green

    What is wrong with David Thorpe…

    David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Bold prediction: Paul Pierce will suffer the worst season of his career, unless he gets traded to a contender. Seems strange seeing that Boston looks like a contender on paper, I know. But I don't think the Celtics are legit, and Pierce's motivation will suffer. A Pierce that is not properly motivated is not a pretty sight.

  • skeeds

    Oh no no, I wouldn't say Pietrus is a on trick pony. I'd go as far as to say that no decent NBA player is a one trick pony. You know what makes a player a "shooter"? Playing for Van Gundy does. Coming off the bench for spurts of 3-4 minutes to take a couple of corner 3's does.
    According to the magic system, everyone except Nelson and Howard is a shooter. Back in Golden State he finished a lot at the rim, exploiting matchups especially against 2 guards, which he can do, because he's really sturdy.

    This is the usual story with many "shooters", And I hate when that happens. (Enter furious rant about Rudy Fernandez)

  • red

    French and mature have never went together even their politicians act like juveniles i say pass

  • strips

    read an article before about pietrus getting alternative treatment for his knee in china…in a shaolin temple. we all know what he can bring to the team, but if you have to drag your ass halfway round the world just to get treatment, it means that knee is bad.

    considering that the c's are badly in need of scoring, he would be perfect, but only if his knee is ok. otherwise, jr smith would be a good option, scoring-wise (though i don't know if he'll be lured with a chance to win a ring; he seems to be the type of guy more interested in big money).

  • http://twitter.com/blakakala @blakakala

    wait for Nate

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