Mickael Pietrus: One team’s trash is another’s treasure

Mickael Pietrus played an important bench role for the Boston Celtics after flopping in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Mickael Pietrus played an important bench role for the Boston Celtics after flopping in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Last season Mickael Pietrus struggled to make much of an impact for a lottery Phoenix Suns team.

This postseason he was the only reserve the Boston Celtics trusted with regular rotation minutes (once Avery Bradley went down and Ray Allen returned to the first unit at least), as the Celtics came a game short of the NBA Finals.

Rewind five months and the Phoenix Suns couldn’t give Pietrus and his $5.3 million expiring contract away.

They tried to trade him to Toronto for a conditional second-rounder, but his balky knee prevented it from going through. They eventually agreed to a buyout that made him a free agent, and the Frenchman signed a deal with the Celtics.

On his way out the door, PBO Lon Babby told The Arizona Republic,“Both Mickael and us realized it’d be beneficial for both parties to part ways. There’s an expression that, ‘All’s well that ends well.’ In this case, all’s well that ends.”

Head coach Alvin Gentry added, “In order for it to be a good fit, you’ve got to want to be here and I’m not sure he was ever fully engaged about being here.”

In Phoenix, Pietrus jacked up bad threes at will and didn’t always seem to have his head in the game. He irked Gentry for getting himself ejected for no reason during a March game in which the Suns were shorthanded and then missed the final 12 games with a knee injury, largely staying away from the team as the season wound down.

He was supposed to be a perfect fit with his defensive prowess and three-point shooting, yet his defensive intensity wavered (oddly enough one of his best moments came in standing up to KG during a win over the Celts) and he shot 34.2 percent from distance.

From what I saw of him, the guy was just a complete goofball who didn’t seem to take much seriously. Based on those comments from Babby and Gentry, despite his talent it wasn’t worth rostering a player who may not have been pulling in the same direction as the rest of the team and just did not care quite enough.

I don’t know if it was a personal thing or if he was just frustrated playing for a team that would miss the playoffs, but from afar Pietrus seems to have largely been a different player mentally with this veteran Boston group.

I’m sure the Suns’ brass must be wondering what an engaged Pietrus could have done for them either on the court or in a trade.

Pietrus did not shoot particularly well in the playoffs, knocking down just 32.9 percent of his shots and 22.2 percent of his treys.

However, according to the NBA’s stats tool, the Celts outscored the Hawks by 8.0 points per 100 with him on the floor (compared to 4.3 without him), and they were 5.0 per 100 better than the Sixers with him and even without him.

Boston played Miami about the same with Pietrus on the floor and on the bench, and while he was largely invisible in that series he hit a few clutch threes in the Celts’ Game 5 upset and fouled LeBron out with a timely flop.

So while his shooting was as abysmal as it was in Phoenix, he still gave some solid minutes to a Celtics squad severely lacking bench depth.

Normally when you think of a “one team’s trash is another team’s treasure” kind of situation you envision Channing Frye going from backing up LaMarcus Aldridge to spacing the floor for Steve Nash. In other words, the player’s new opportunity offers a much better role or system that leads said player to surprising levels of success.

But to me the reason Mickael Pietrus flopped in Phoenix and played a key role in Boston all comes down to his own intrinsic motivation.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

Tags: Mickael Pietrus

  • Tony

    Peitrus is a head case who needs a heavy hand to keep him in check. With the Suns and the system they play, Peitrus had too much freedom to basically do what he wanted. With the Suns being a mediocre team and the freedom Peitrus had in the offense, his sporadic and undisciplined play was not surprising.

    It’s important to remember that for some players, such as Peitrus, it’s difficult for them to stay mentally engaged with their team when they play on a lottery team. Diaw is another perfect example. He basically played very poorly with the Bobcats but when on the Spurs, he played very well. So, the atmosphere, that is whether the team is a winning one or not, can have a major effect in determining whether some players stay focused or play for themselves and forget about the team. That’s not to say all or even most NBA players need to play for a winning team to be successful, but some, like Peitrus, need it to stay engaged.

  • Scott

    Pietrus’ temperament wasn’t suited to the Suns, who were too nice and passive for his taste, plus he was always either out injured or playing with a leg injury, which killed his shot. He was also almost always playing with the 2nd unit, IIRC, which was ill-composed and made everyone look bad.

    As an aside, I’m really enjoying the videos on Draft Express, both the player analysis videos and the interviews.

    I think the NBA has Lillard wrong. He’s a tiny Barbosa / Wade, and should be viewed as a combo guard mainly playing SG. He’s only being seen as a PG because of his height (6’2″), as he doesn’t assist. He’s a scorer, and he’s got the length (6’7″ wingspan) to play at SG. That’s where he belongs.

    Also, Kendall Marshall comes across as exceptionally mature in his interview. Unless there’s something I don’t know about, he’s going higher than the mocks presently have him. I don’t see him going below #10, and I believe NO would pick him over Lillard, esp. as they already have Gordon.

    Andre Drummond greatly resembles Amare … around the eyes. I mean, the eyes and eyebrows are a dead ringer for Amare’s. His game is a complete opposite, though. If he goes to a team with a good pick and roll PG who can get him the ball near the hoop, Drummond should be able to get enough reps on his offensive game to make an impact. Other than that, he needs to learn to pass when he gets the ball. (The guy is 30% at the FT line. Hack a Drummond? Oh yeah. Teams will be hitting him all game long.)

    I note that Meyers Leonard has now crept up past Tyler Zeller on the draft board, which seems appropriate.

    Austin Rivers is dropping. In his interview, he mentioned the teams that he thought he’d fit on. Clearly – despite the advice he was given to “be real” – he believes he’s going higher in the draft than he really will be. Phoenix was the last on his list, as if he couldn’t believe he’d really go that low, and it’s doubtful he’ll go that high. ;)

    I also see Quincy Miller is dropping, and Will Barton is rising.

    In his interview, Tony Wroten makes me think he is the 2nd coming of Starbury.

    It’s looking like the draft order is getting more refined.

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    I’d say a difference between Diaw and Pietrus is that Diaw is a high IQ, skilled player whose abilities rise as the talent level rises around him. His big skill is to facilitate.

    Pietrus, on the other hand, has mainly been dependent on his drive and athleticism. In the Suns offense he was required to shoot, and his shots weren’t falling. But defensively he was generally there.

    The Celtics are a great fit for his temperament.

  • Paul

    I don’t think this could’ve been said any better. As a Suns fan I lost a lot of respect for Pietrus. When we initially signed him I thought he might be an answer for the struggling Suns. It didn’t take long to realize that his ego got in the way. Wish him the best… And hopefully an attitude reevaluation if he gets traded (which is a possibility).

  • sun-arc

    I couldn’t believe hearing an interview of Pietrus on Jim Rome, and having Rome say afterwords, “what a class act”. Yeah, right. He doesn’t know jack. We saw the crappy side of Pietrus and it wasn’t pretty at all. He wasn’t even a professional- forget having “class”.

    I think on the other hand, it’s pretty amazing how the Celtics get “lost” players and really get them engaged. I really admire how they do that. The Suns are great at reviving broken bodies- which I’ll take. But can you imagine if we could do both? If we could have, last season with engaged versions Carter and Pietrus, we could have been pretty darn good.

  • shazam

    petri dish..over acted about his knee in toronto basically it telegraphed to the raptors that he didnt want to be there and gave them the reason to cancel the trade….class act?…rome is and always has been a piece o sh^t

  • steve


    “Jim Rome.” Well there’s your problem. Rome wouldn’t know class if it threw over a table in the middle of an interview and tried to kill him on live national television.

    I think he’s an interesting listen, but guys like Rome and Cowherd are the very definition of the word “pretentious.”

  • Paul

    Seems like he gave boston what he gave phx. Decent defense, wildly erratic scoring, and boneheaded fouls and turnovers.