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.