Mickael Pietrus picks up option, becomes $5.3 million expiring contract

Mickael Pietrus picked up his 2011-12 option and now becomes a $5.3 million expiring contract. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Knowing he likely would not get a better offer in free agency, Mickael Pietrus picked up his $5.3 million option for 2011-12 on Monday.

This has been widely expected since the Suns acquired Pietrus in their blockbuster trade with Orlando in December considering how much salaries are likely to be depressed this offseason, meaning Pietrus’ value would not approach that mid-level dollar figure.

But that doesn’t mean Pietrus will necessarily start the season in a Suns uniform as his agent knows all too well.

“I’d be surprised if Lon (Babby) doesn’t make a couple deals on draft day or later,” Pietrus’ agent Bill McCandless told The Arizona Republic. “If you have a surplus in one position and a need in another, guess what?

“But if he comes back, he’s looking forward to having a full training camp. It’s not the easiest thing, for any player, to be traded and go from Coaching Style A to Coaching Style B and from Management Style A to Management Style B.”

If Grant Hill returns (a likelihood if the Suns choose not to shake up the core) Phoenix will boast four natural small forwards, including Pietrus. As his agent said, it doesn’t take a genius to realize the Suns would be willing to trade from this area of strength depth-wise to swing a deal for an area of weakness, and since Hill would not be dealt if brought back, Dudley is a future piece and nobody wants Childress’ contract, Pietrus is an obvious trade candidate.

McCandless also made his statement about the possibility of a Phoenix trade because this practically confirms the Suns won’t have enough cap space to make a dent in free agency.

Counting the likely $4 million guaranteed money to be paid to Vince Carter to walk away rather than his full $18.3 million salary, the Suns will have a hair over $50 million committed to eight players. That does not count the likely Hill extension, any potential Aaron Brooks deal or the minimum salary placeholders for the rest of the roster.

With the cap at $58 million last season and very likely to go down in the aftermath of the new CBA, Pietrus’ deal assures the Suns won’t have much free agency cash.

However, he now becomes a $5.3 million expiring contract who can be a very useful player in the right situation and with the right motivation.

With clearing cap space possibly about to become very attractive (or flat-out necessary depending on the terms of the CBA), Pietrus immediately becomes a desirable trade chip to potentially get back a player who can help long term with a longer contract (Sarver did say this team would likely improve most through trades).

If he stays, Pietrus will give the Suns more of what he gave them this season. When his head is screwed on right he can be an elite defender and when he stops jacking up bad shots he can be a real sniper from long range.

The Suns got a taste of that Pietrus at times, but he was far too inconsistent at both ends to be counted on as any kind of a contributor.

However, I do agree with his agent that a full training camp with this organization would do wonders for Pietrus. In theory he is a fantastic role player for a Steve Nash team due to his floor spacing ability and quality defense.

But at $5.3 million Pietrus is one more in a long line of expensive role players, so he might now be most valuable to the franchise as an expiring contract.

And 1

The Suns worked out Jimmer Fredette, Tristan Thompson, Chris Singleton and the Morris twins on Monday. Phoenix will work out a group headlined by rugged board man Kenneth Faried on Tuesday.

Tags: Mickael Pietrus

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I think he’s as good as gone.

    Process of elimination more than anything else, too.

    I mean really. Brooks probably won’t be back, Carter will be gone, Lopez holds no value, J Chil holds no value, and G Hill isn’t even on the team right now.

    It seems like keeping Nash is the final word, so he has no value since he isn’t going anywhere. Gortat isn’t going anywhere.

    JMZ and Channing are the only other two options with JMZ having a decent contract.

    But what can a Pietrus bring back? At most, I’m thinking another draft pick from a fringe contender. That means a playoff team so, that’s a mid to late first?

    I mean there are places that he could land, but I don’t see much there as it stands.

    I’m more interested in the workouts and who the hot shots fell in love with versus who they really didn’t like all that much.

  • Mel.

    Unfortunate. Pietrus fit right in the system, added some smashmouth defense (I’ll love him forever for squaring up on KG) and kept the faith with his off-the-court carry… regrettable loss, but definitely something that has to happen in the greater scheme.

  • kev

    To all the people who say Lopez and Childress haters and who say they have no value, you guys will be proven wrong. Childress has proven that he is a smart player and has done well in the past. And Lopez is very young and showed what he can do.

    Unfortunately for both of them, they got injured and did not bounce back in the season. Childress never came back in the line-up till the end of the season.

  • Mel.

    I think the static on Chilly is that he wound up with a Luke Walton-sized contract, which sure as hell isn’t his fault. The guy did everything asked of him despite being shoved further and further down into the rotation, and was still optimistic heading into the last leg of the year.

    So I reckon the mentions of his lack of “value” is in terms of shucking his contract as part of a deal. It’s an albatross, but I don’t believe that anybody’s down on Josh’s value based on what he’ll be bringing to the table next year.

  • Ryan

    @Mel. RIght on point with Childress. As far as Lopez, I saw where some think he can be a trade chip for say a Paul Millsap, which I think is some serious kool aid if you buy into that. Guy had no fire this past season on top of a complete lack of explosiveness. He’s worth the money the Suns have committed to him,(cause he may snap out of it) but as far as trade value Lopez is worth a second round pick tops….and why trade him for that, wait and see if his value can go up….And Childress has value, just can’t be traded with the commitment in dollars the Suns have for him unless the Suns add him as a tax in a Steve Nash trade.

  • Cam

    I think that, although he played horribly last year, Fropez still holds some trade value. He is still young, showed flashes of impressive play in the playoffs against the Lakers, and could come back healthier than he was last year with an extended layoff due to the impending lockout. Add in the fact that he is locked in a low dollar contract for, I believe but I might be wrong, only one more year. A playoff team that needs a big might be willing to give up a pick to take a chance on him. If we got a late 1st round pick for him we could draft a big like Nikolas Vucevic, Jeremy Tyler, or Lucas Nogueira and give them a few years behind Thortat. We could also use that late first to pick up a PG like Darius Morris to sit behind Nash and learn the system. Go Suns.

  • Ryan

    So that shows your faith in Lopez if he was to stay with the Suns….think about it you’re willing to trade him and draft a project of a big man(minus “flashes of impressive play in the playoffs) to take the place of Lopez whos at this point a project of a big man.

  • Steve

    I’m not going to say Lopez is good or that he is ever going to be good, but I guarantee he’s worth more than a second-rounder in the soon-to-be-old CBA. Who knows what will happen with the new agreement. But there are a lot of teams who would take a shot on a seven-footer who has shown he can be competent (and even a big contributor, if necessary). Sometimes guys just need a change of scenery, and maybe that’s where some GMs/owners/coaches think Lopez is at.

  • Cam

    @Ryan: I like Fropez but back injuries can be very risky. I never said I had faith in him. If he had had a bad year minus the back injury I would think keeping him would be almost a no brainer. My worry is that this back injury may get better initially but if he plays well, and gets re signed for a decent contract, and then his back injury flares up worse than before, now the Suns are stuck with an “albatross” contract. If the Suns can get a pick that could net them a young big in this draft I think they should jump at it. You never mess with back injuries. Go Suns.

  • Ryan

    @cam: I agree with you, it’s primarily the back that’s shot his stock down from a year ago and Lopez helping it go down along the way with his attitude and lack aggresiveness. I also agree that it is best to trade him..and as far as you’re faith in him I was only pointing out that you in fact didn’t really have faith in him(as I don’t either)not that you implied you did..I’m certainly in favor of a 1st rounder for Lopez trade. I just don’t think it can happen in the offseason. It would be stupid for the Suns to trade him at the trade value he currently has. IMO he has to show more than he did this last season in health and desire to garner a first round pick.(I still say if the Suns shop him RIGHT NOW, they get offered not much more than a second rounder…try and get value on a car with a bad transmission) If I”m the Suns my stance on Lopez is hold tight and sale high if he makes some progress, and if he doesn’t sale to the highest bidder at the trade deadline…his trade value can’t get any lower than it is now for the remainder of his contract..of course all this goes out the window if he’s required for a blockbuster trade involving a piece the Suns need.

  • Cam

    @Ryan: If the Suns can’t get good value for him then, I agree with you, hold tight. If the lockout goes longer than expected it could give him a little more time to get healthier. If he plays well the Suns may be able to get a 1st rounder out of a team looking for a young big. A 1st in next years draft will net, according to all the analysts on the internet, a higher quality pick than I this years draft. I was just making an observation that if the Suns could acquire an intriguing talent, mainly an immature, young but talented Jeremy Tyler or Lucas Noguiera, they may want to take that chance. Both players are extremely young and the Suns would have the luxury of letting either of them sit behind a center in Thortat who could help them develop into possible superstars. Let’s not forget that Jerruined hi career by going abroad at 17. He was one of the top prospects in the nationhe is currently slated in multiple mock drafts as an early 2nd round pick. I think the Suns should jump at a chance to grab a young prospect like him if only costs them Fropez. These two players are high risk high reward but with the right mentor in Thortat I say you take a chance. They won’t have the pressure like Kwame Brown had to succeed right away and that may help them develop. Fropez isn’t going to start for the Suns with Thortat there. He doesn’t seem to want to be a backup. I say make the trade if they have a chance. Go Suns.

  • Cam

    “Jerruined hi” in the previous post is supposed to be “Jeremy Tyler ruined his”. Sorry. Go Suns.

  • ScottRemi

    As a HUGE Suns fan it pains me to say this, but the Suns are at rock bottom in my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, will always contend to make the playoffs NO MATTER WHAT, but that’s just not enough. Its time to make some big moves. I am scared to say the word “rebuild” since we are always surprising people with better records than predicted, so I will say…Lets make a deal!
    I refuse to suggest getting rid of Nash or Hill but as far as I’m concerned, everyone should be on the chopping block.
    I like Pietrus a lot but he’s inconsistent & definitely replaceable.
    Lopez is not producing. Hasn’t at all other than a few games late season 2 yrs ago. Injuries or not, I see no future with ol’ sideshow bob.
    I feel this way about most of the team (which (for me) is uncharacteristic & depressing).
    One player I really like and I know for a fact has a promising future in purple & orange is JYD. What sucks is that every team sees what we all see, so we might get some ridiculously tempting offers for him that may show TOO tempting for our ever-confused front office.

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