Thursday, July 7, 2011
Did Pietrus interest expire at deadline?
By Chris Forsberg | @ESPNForsberg | Email
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesRumors swirled around February's trade deadline that the Celtics were interested in Phoenix's Mickael Pietrus (the Suns had a handful of swingmen, in fact, that Boston reportedly eyed before pulling the trigger on a swap with Oklahoma City that brought Jeff Green to town). Now, Pietrus suggested to a French sports daily newspaper that the Celtics and Lakers remain interested in his services. From L'Equpie via HoopsHype:
Mickael Pietrus and Kevin Garnett had a little dust-up last season.
“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 11th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Pietrus spent five season with Golden State before becoming a thorn in Boston's side during two 3-pointer-happy seasons in Orlando. Last December, he got dealt to the Suns with Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Earl Clark. Last month, Pietrus exercised a $5.3 million player option to return to Phoenix, but his latest comments suggest he might be trying to talk his way out of town and into the arms of a contender.
* Forsberg's thoughts: The 6-foot-6 Pietrus will turn 30 in October near the (expected) start of the 2011-12 season. His offensive game is pretty simple: Stand in the corner and shoot 3's. Pietrus has chucked better than four 3-pointers per game over the past three seasons and is a 35.9 percent shooter from beyond the arc for his career. That's not too shabby, but he ranked 80th in the NBA in 3-point percentage this past season. He doesn't shoot particularly well from the mid-range and the other half of his offense typically comes at the rim (though he doesn't get to the line with any sort of frequency). According to Synergy Sports stats from last season with Phoenix, 41.3 percent of his offense comes from spot-up shooting and he graded out as merely average, making only 39 of the 114 shots he took (34.2 percent) in that situation. Pietrus thrived off screens, which is intriguing for a Boston squad that generates much of Ray Allen's offense that way (though only 21 of Pietrus' total 250 shot attempts in Phoenix came off screens).
A career defensive rating of 107 suggests that he's an average wing defender (though he's had his moments, like the 103 rating he posted in Orlando's run to the conference finals in 2010). He doesn't rebound much, particularly offensively where he's glued to the stripe. Essentially, he's a 3-point threat who, when he's hot, really forces an opposing defense to pay attention to him. He burnt the Celtics bad during the 2009 playoffs -- three games with 17 points and five of the six in double figures -- but he's had only one NBA season where he averaged more than 10 points per game during the regular season (11.1 points with Golden State in 2006-07). He hasn't topped nine points per game since that 2008-09 season with Orlando. In a way, his production suggests a taller Nate Robinson (at least based on what Robinson did in Boston).
The addition of Green leaves us wondering if Boston's interest in Pietrus expired with last year's trade deadline. For the sake of argument, let's assume the Celtics would still consider a move. In order to obtain Pietrus from Phoenix, they'd have to give up someone like Green, who received a $5.9 million qualifying offer last month. While Green has strides to make in his own game, the soon-to-be 25-year-old is a more well-rounded player with far more upside than Pietrus.
The Celtics could also facilitate a sign-and-trade utilizing Glen Davis -- assuming that option lives on in the next collective bargaining agreement -- but beyond the fact that Pietrus' deal expires after the season when the Celtics crave financial flexibility, there's better bang for the buck (including Davis, even if it forced Boston to commit longer term).
The Celtics certainly crave shooting and wing depth, but they can likely do better than Pietrus and his price tag. In fact, despite what Pietrus told L'Equipe, if the Suns called when there's a new CBA, the Celtics should say they're not interested.