is quite the character.
He loves the camera and enjoys being in the spotlight, so it’s through those glasses that we must analyze the news that Pietrus told the French paper L’Equipe that many teams — as well as Kobe Bryant – want him.
This shouldn’t be taken as a diss on Pietrus. I personally find him hilarious and enjoy the good-natured vibe he brings to the locker room. I just don’t think we should take him at face value on this one.
According to a HoopsHype translation, Pietrus said:
“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.”
“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.”
Two months ago the Dallas Mavericks were finishing off their sweep of the Lakers, and for some reason I don’t think Kobe’s first thought was: “If only we had Mickael Pietrus…”
That’s not to say I think Pietrus is necessarily lying. Kobe may have said something in passing expressing this sentiment, but I don’t think it was anything to be taken too seriously with this whole lockout thing going on and the Lakers likely needing to lop off salary, not add it.
Furthermore, I don’t think Pietrus truly believed this to be serious himself. He would not have picked up his $5.3 million option if he really thought he could be the missing piece on a title contender. The move was a no-brainer financially, but now Pietrus isn’t exactly free to name his team.
As for his accusation that the Suns didn’t use him correctly, Pietrus was a rotation player from Dec. 26 until Jan. 11 and then again from Jan. 28 until March 23 when he strained his quadriceps and missed the rest of the season. He stayed home for a five-game road trip soon after the injury and then, according to Paul Coro, said he could barely walk as he missed the final two games for an injury that at first did not seem so serious.
It’s difficult to see where the Suns misused him. If any wing should be griping about that subject, it would be.
Since he owns a $5.3 million expiring contract that could fetch an asset, the Suns were likely to put Pietrus on the block anyway, something his agent intimated when Pietrus picked up his option. Pietrus’ comments do nothing to change that.
If they don’t trade him I expect Pietrus to report to camp and be his same jovial self, especially if he gets more time and touches and is able to make a bigger impact next season, a decent possibility now that he’s more comfortable in a system that — on paper at least — suits him.
Having been around Pietrus the final four months of the season, this certainly seems to be much ado about nothing and just a frustrated player saying more than he probably should for the purpose of making the splash it ended up making.
If Pietrus were that unhappy he would have opted out, so while I’m sure he would rather be playing next season with Kobe than Nash I think we can chalk this one up to Pietrus being Pietrus.
Suns announce D-League affiliation with Bakersfield Jam
The Phoenix Suns’ D-League affiliate will play its games a bit closer to home next season.
The D-League announced Thursday that the Bakersfield Jam will be Phoenix’s new affiliate next year after the Suns had previously been with the Iowa Energy. They will join the Clippers and Raptors in a three-team affiliation with Bakersfield.
The Suns had previously looked into buying a team in Prescott Valley. They would have controlled the basketball operations portion of the franchise, but the deal didn’t work out.
Although it’s too bad having to share Bakersfield with two other teams rather than the one other organization they shared the Energy with, playing in California rather than Iowa should be a real boon to Phoenix. It will be more convenient for executives to travel there to watch a quick game and it will also be easier to get players there.
The ideal situation of course would be having the Suns own their own D-League team so they could institute their own schemes as San Antonio does with the Austin Toros, and perhaps one day a deal in Prescott Valley or wherever else will come to fruition.
But an affiliation all the way in Iowa never made a ton of sense, so on that front the Bakersfield affiliation is a positive deal.