Posted: Dec. 20, 2010
When the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic squared off in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, Lance Blanks, then an assistant general manager with the Cavs, received an up-close and personal opportunity to scout Mickael Pietrus.
Pietrus, a swingman who prior to joining the Magic had spent time his entire carer with the Warriors, proved to be a Cavs killer in the six-game series and was never more dangerous than in Game 4 when he scored 17 points behind 5-of-11 shooting from behind the 3-point line. The performane helped give Orlando a commanding 3-1 lead in the series from which they never looked back.
“He was like a sniper,” Blanks recalled of Pietrus’ ability to shoot from the corner. “He knocked down a lot of big shots.”
On Monday, Blanks, was again acquainted with Pietrus, this time as the Suns General Manager, and this time he had the opportunity to see a much lighter side of the swingman. Pietrus was one of three new Suns introduced to the media on Monday following the weekend's trade between Phoenix and Orlando, and the energetic 28-year-old said he is looking forward to helping his new team as soon as possible.
“I’m very excited to be here and to be a Sun,” Pietrus said. “I came here to win and I can’t wait to get started.”
When asked if he would be able to play as soon as Thursday night’s contest against the Heat despite his ailing knee, Pietrus offered to verify his health status by dancing for those in attendance. It was one of a number of times he received a good laugh from the reporters and Suns employees who took in the press conference at US Airways Center. But as the seventh-year player pointed out, just because he likes to have fun doesn’t mean he doesn’t also know how to handle his business.
“If fans watch me they will see me smiling a lot because I enjoy playing the game,” Pietrus said. “But I also understand that there is a certain mentality you have to have if you want to be a winner and I am looking to bring that mentality here.”
Asked how his experience in Golden State’s up-tempo offense would help his transition to learn the Phoenix offense, Pietrus made it clear that while his time with the Warriors would be beneficial, he views his time playing with the Magic as being just as valuable.
“The offense we played in Golden State was similar, but I don’t want to say that playing with Golden State was best for,” Pietrus said. "We were very successful with the Magic and made it all the way to the NBA Finals.”
As Pietrus also explained, while he may have the reputation for being a dangerous shooter from outside, he takes just as much pride in his abilities on the other end of the floor.
“I think at the end of the game, you have to play defense to win,” he said. “I believe that defense wins games, and know that playing with that mentality will help me reach my goal of winning a championship as soon as possible.”
Proclaimed Blanks, “I can’t emphasize enough the level of grit and toughness he will bring to our organization.”
As far as what role Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry chooses to use his new weapon in remains to be seen, but as Pietrus explained on Monday, he’ll be ready for anything.
“I enjoy winning, and to me, it doesn’t matter if I’m starting or coming off the bench,” he said. “I just want to provide energy and I feel I can help both offensively and defensively. It’s time for us to move on from Orlando and I am looking forward to stepping out onto the court with my new teammates and trying to win games.”
Pietrus leaves little doubt that he comes to Phoenix looking to win and will not accept anything less. Just don’t be too surprised if he looks to be having some fun in the process.