Could Mickael Pietrus be the final piece of Celtics roster?
|12.23.11 at 9:51 am ET|
On Wednesday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers hinted that the team would keep one of their 15 roster spots open in case someone else was waived or bought out. On Thursday, the C’s waived three of their own players, bringing their count to 14 and sure enough, Phoenix elected to cut ties with Mickael Pietrus, a 6-foot-6 wing player, who would fit in nicely on a team that needs depth at both wing positions.
Pietrus still has to pass through waivers, but if he’s available he’d be an upgrade over whatever is left in the free agent market.
The 29-year-old Pietrus has had a consistent eight-year career in Golden State, Orlando and Phoenix. He takes a lot of 3′s and makes them at about a 36 percent clip. He’s developing a reputation as an offensive player who passes only as a last resort, but the Celtics could use a little of that on their second team (in moderation).
He’s also a willing defender with the required length and athleticism to be a versatile backup. He’s more of a defensive stopper in theory than a legit Bruce Bowen doppelganger, but the tools are there.
Pietrus was great in 2010 playoffs with the Magic, averaging better than 10 points a game and shooting 39 percent from 3-point range as Orlando advanced to the NBA finals, knocking off the Celtics in the second round in the process.
His departure from Phoenix is not without some controversy. He had surgery on his right knee in July after he was declared unable to play with the French national team. The Suns traded him to Toronto, but the deal was negated after he failed the physical.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry told the Arizona Republic, “He was really our kind of player — a big guy who can shoot. 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.”
If his knee holds up, Pietrus would be a solid fit for the Celtics who need more depth on the wing and a proven backup to Ray Allen. They have four wing players behind Allen and Paul Pierce — Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic, Avery Bradley and E’Twuan Moore, and none of them is a proven 3-point threat. (He’d be an interesting fit, as well. Pietrus was involved in the Kevin Garnett-Channing Frye incident last season, throwing a left hand in the vicinity of Garnett’s thorax).
For all the concern about the lack of centers, the Celtics actually have six frontcourt players including rookie JaJuan Johnson and Greg Stiemsma behind the likely rotation of Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox. Their biggest need by far is depth on the wing behind Allen and Pierce and Pietrus is one of the few players available who could play both roles.