PHOENIX — When you analyze Saturday’s blockbuster trade with the Orlando Magic, the Phoenix Suns clearly need Vince Carter (when healthy) to become their leading scorer and Marcin Gortat to solidify their interior defense and rebounding efforts.
Where Mickael Pietrus fits in isn’t so certain, and that has nothing to do with his skill set.
In many ways Pietrus is a prototypical Suns wing in that he’s athletic, a solid three-point shooter (hitting a career high 39.1 percent this season), very good in transition and a superb defender. He’s not a guy who’s going to create much offense, but he’s a very good spacer who will thrive in the transition game with Steve Nash.
The only problem is he gives the Suns five quality wing players, and to go with two-deep depth at every other position, Alvin Gentry will have some very interesting decisions on his hands.
The Suns successfully pulled off a 10-man rotation last season, but an 11-man unit seems a bit too ambitious for any team’s tastes. Gentry recently shortened it to nine, but now with this trade creating a more conventional rotation he should be able to work in 10 once again.
If Vince Carter ends up missing up to a month with potential knee surgery, that could make Gentry’s decision easy, and he would possess a wing rotation consisting entirely of noted defenders, which when combined with the return to health of Robin Lopez and the acquisition of Gortat should vastly improve the defense.
Pietrus seems to be a nice fit on the Suns’ second unit. He can help create that frenetic pace that Goran Dragic and the rest of the unit thrives in, while playing a part in what should be a very good defensive lineup aside from at power forward (Warrick).
Pietrus’ fun-loving personality should make him a hit in the locker room as well. That was on display during the introductory presser when he joked that he would dance the Dougie to prove his hurt left knee is fine and when he answered Carter playfully trying to come up with the name of the Suns’ legendary point guard by saying “Mickael Pietrus.”
After Gortat glowingly spoke about a breakout performance in Phoenix a few years back, Pietrus piped back that if anybody wants to see the tape they can go to the NBA to get a DVD of that game and Tuesday at practice he joked about being a better soccer player than Nash.
After playing in Orlando’s methodical system the last two-plus years, Pietrus returns to his Golden State roots with the trade to Phoenix having thrived playing the Warriors’ brisk pace during his five years in Oakland. Pietrus continues what seems to be a revolving door of wings from Golden State to Phoenix after J-Rich and Matt Barnes, and pretty soon all the wings from that special 2006-07 Warriors team will have gone through Phoenix.
“I think it’s similar,” Pietrus said. “I’m used to it. I know what to expect.”
As a 3-D guy (threes and defense) who can also thrive in transition, Pietrus should be a solid role player off the bench for the Suns, if only he can convince Alvin Gentry he’s more deserving of that time than guys like Jared Dudley and Josh Childress. I feel like another trade is ultimately the solution, and perhaps Pietrus’ 2011-12 player option at $5.3 million will be attractive to a team looking for a backup wing, as Pietrus and Childress seem to be the most likely trade candidates.
But such a deal would only occur because the Suns can’t play everybody, as Pietrus’ shooting and defense should make him an effective backup in Phoenix.
“I’m very excited to be here and I can’t wait to get started and get the franchise where it needs to be,” Pietrus said.
Tags: Mickael Pietrus