Mickael Pietrus Open To Return To Celtics, Will Not Play For Veteran Minimum
By Ben Rohrbach
Mickael Pietrus‘ days in a Celtics uniform may be numbered.
Pietrus is “still open to a return,” according to his agent Bill McCandless, but the 30-year-old free agent swingman will not play for the NBA’s veteran minimum salary — which, after his nine years in the league, is $1.23 million.
“MP will not play for the veteran’s minimum. Period,” said McCandless. “It’s not happening. That’s the beginning, middle and end of that. … He is not a veteran’s minimum player. There’s no chance he’ll ever sign for that.”
That leaves the $1.96 million bi-annual exception as the C’s only option, but that may not be enough. While Pietrus signed for the $1.22 million minimum after being waived by the Suns in December, the French-speaking Guadeloupean has “a standing offer triple that overseas,” his agent said. They’ve also engaged in serious talks with several NBA teams, including one Monday, “and the money was much more than the veteran minimum.”
“I’ve had the veteran minimum thrown at me like hubcaps,” added McCandless. “In this collective bargaining agreement, a component of any player’s wishes and desires is the money teams are willing to pay. They’re pro athletes. My mother might cry in her beer when Johnny Damon runs away to the Yankees, but you and I understand it’s a business.”
Of course, the Celtics may not be willing to offer their bi-annual exception to Pietrus, who would likely fall behind Paul Pierce and Jeff Green at small forward as well as Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry at shooting guard on the depth chart. Pietrus has also undergone surgical procedures on his right knee each of the past two summers.
“[Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] has done his job,” said McCandless. “He’s going to assemble the team he wants to, and he’s done a good job. My job is to do the best thing I can for my client. …
“I really like [Celtics assistant general manager] Mike Zarren. He’s very bright. He and Danny, wading through some very complicated rules, have done an outstanding job.”
Still, Pietrus averaged 6.9 points (38.5 FG%, 33.5 3P%, 64.5 FT%) and 3.1 rebounds in 21.9 minutes over 42 games for the Celtics. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound wing has averaged 8.4 points (42.7 FG%, 35.7 3P%, 66.5 FT%) for his career. While his numbers dipped to just 3.5 points (32.9 FG%, 22.2 3P%, 56.3 FT%) and 2.1 boards in the playoffs, his defense against the likes of Joe Johnson, Evan Turner and LeBron James proved valuable.
The return of Pietrus would only further solidify the C’s revamped depth at the 1-2-3 positions. While he expressed his love for both Kevin Garnett and the Celtics tradition at various points throughout last season, for anybody expecting Pietrus to take a hometown discount to remain in Boston, don’t hold your breath.
“He’s looking for a team that likes him and respects what he does,” his agent said. “If he ends up on a championship or playoff contender, that’ll take care of itself. … He’s still open to a return. He loved Boston. Everybody knows that. But we’re all big boys, and this is a big boy business.”