So Mickael Pietrus came right out and said it at practice Tuesday afternoon.
And said it, and said it, and said it…
In seven minutes of talk with the media, Pietrus didn’t go more than 20 seconds, on average, without using either the word “trade” or “move” to describe his fervent desire to play anywhere other than Oracle Arena.
“No matter where I go, I’ll prove myself and I’ll be a great player,” Pietrus said. “That’s all that’s on my mind right now. And I’ll be an All-Star, too.”
MP has popped off about playing time before, but this was hardly one of those situations. It was a clearly calculated attempt to force the hand of the Warriors, although it appears to have had little effect on the organization as a whole.
“I think it’s necessary to do a deal that’s good for the Warriors,” executive vice president Chris Mullin said when asked if the Warriors had no choice but to move MP. “That is necessary. . . . There’s a lot of things I’m willing to do, and I’ve been willing to do. But that does entail somebody else in that scenario.”
The problem remains the same as it’s been for months: Mullin and Pietrus’ agents are at loggerheads over what constitutes a fair deal. Bill McCandless and Happy Walters have flogged a lot of potential trades, but none of them have passed muster with the Warriors, who are looking for a very specific type of player — for the most part, either someone who’s going to take the team to the Western Conference finals or beyond, or someone who’s coming off the books this summer, so the money doesn’t get squeezed for Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins.
(Personally, I’m partial to Miami’s Jason Williams, but I’m not convinced the Warriors would be willing to use their $10 million trade exception on J-Will — nor am I convinced they’re enamored with Williams’ game in general.)
McCandless brought up an interesting point Tuesday: If Pietrus is worth so much to the Warriors when it comes to making a trade, why isn’t he on the floor more?
“(Pietrus) is either a contributor on your team — in which case he plays 25 minutes — or he’s not,” McCandless said. “If he’s not a contributor, why expect to get the same things in return?”
In Kawakami’s absence, here are the Q&A transcripts:
I definitely want to be traded to another team that I can help at the 2/3 position. I think that it was good to play the 4/5, but it’s not really my primary spot, it’s not where I’m so efficient. So I want to move on. I think I came here, I worked my ass off for the team, and now it’s good that we have a playoff team and I feel like I need to move on and go somewhere else I can help the team right away.
(What if you’re still here on Feb. 22?)
I want to be traded. I want to be traded. I don’t think about after Feb. 21. I think about now, and I think for me it’s time to move on and go to a team that I can — as a player, you’re always looking to improve yourself and I feel like I need to prove myself and be a better player every day.
(Most players say, “I just want to play for a winning team.” You just called this a playoff team. Why leave?)
Because I feel like the 4/5, if you compare my statistics at the same time last year, before the trade, I was averaging 14, 15 points, and this year, they’re trying to move me to the 4/5, which is not my primary spot. I would like to get back to where I came from, like the 2/3, and play at a high level.
(Nellie says you’re playing better than earlier this season.)
I don’t feel like I’m playing more minutes, but I feel like when I step on the floor, I’m trying to be a professional and do the right thing for the team. I know I’m not going to stay on the floor for 40 minutes, so I’m trying to help the team the best way I can, but I feel like I need to move on and go to a team that wants me and wants to use me at the 2/3.
(You think the Warriors don’t want you?)
I never said they don’t want me. It’s nothing against the organization, it’s just always as a player you want to improve yourself and I feel like I need to move on.
(But doesn’t the fact they only made the one-year qualifying offer speak volumes?)
If you look at the team, the only tradable guy on the team is me, and I won’t mind that.
(What did Nellie say to you?)
Between coach and me, I think it was a private talk. He told me that he only has 10 minutes for me at the 2/3, and I’ve been through a lot this year, a lot of frustration, and when I was to play the 4/5. To me, to play just 10 minutes at the 3, it’s kind of tough. I’m trying to be as professional as I am, try to help the team the best way I can before I move on.
(Nellie said they’re not just going to trade you for the sake of a trade.)
I want to be moved. I want to be moved. I want to be moved. I want to be traded.
(Sad that it’s come to this?)
Since I came here, I’m a vet now, I gave the team a lot. We were a bad team five years ago, and I worked hard to put the team where they are now, and I feel like I’m ready to move on and look forward and get better.
(Happy with where Nelson has played you, or frustrated?)
I feel frustrated, because when you look at my statistics from last year, when I used to play the 2/3, I was averaging a lot of points and a lot of rebounds. But since he moved me to the 4/5, I’m not as efficient as I was. I’m trying to find myself at this point, but this team doesn’t belong to me. I think I’m better at the 2/3 and I can help the team better.
(If you leave, what would you take from Nelson?)
It’s no hard feelings against the Warriors, no hard feelings against anybody, no hard feelings against Chris Mullin. I feel like I want to improve my game from last year to this year, and for me it’s time to thank them and move on.
(If you had it to do over again, would you have stayed out instead of signing the qualifying offer?)
It’s a good qualifying offer. It wasn’t bad. I don’t think it’s a problem with the contract. I think it’s a problem where you give so much to the team last year and I was expecting more this year, and try to help my team and try to play at a high level and try to focus in. But I feel like for me, it’s just time to move on after five years. I gave so much, and I would like to thank everybody and be traded.
(Expecting “more” of what, exactly?)
In terms of playing time. It’s kind of tough when you play 10 minutes and you try to improve as a player. I know that I’m a better player, and I will be a great player.
(Did you try to convince Nelson to play you more at 2/3?)
No, I understand that we have a good vet in front of me in Stephen Jackson. It is no problem. But I feel like there’s more teams out there who would like to use me at the 2/3 and I feel like it’s time for me to move on.
No matter where I go, I’ll prove myself and I’ll be a great player. That’s all that’s on my mind right now. And I’ll be an All-Star, too. I told you before.
(What was the upshot of Mickael’s meeting with you?)
Real simple. It was nothing I didn’t know. His agent asked him to see me so he could put the quote in the paper that he did. Anyway, he did.
(Problems with guys playing for contracts?)
No, actually, it was getting better (with Pietrus).
Well, at least he’s playing know, playing hard, playing the best he’s played all year right now. That hasn’t transformed to the games, but he’s working hard in practice, those kind of things.
(Was he pouting earlier this season?)
I wouldn’t say that. You call it what you want. I don’t really know. He has not had a good year.
(What did you tell him?)
I told him exactly what you would think I would tell him: That we’re not just going to trade him because he wants to be traded, and if we can get a player for him, we’ll trade him, and if we can’t, he’s gonna stay here. Real simple. It has to be somebody that we like, somebody that can help us. He’s an NBA player. I have to get an NBA player back for him that I like. I like Pietrus. When he’s playing, I like him. He played 26 minutes a game last year. Why are his minutes cut down? Because of his production. No other reason. I had him penciled in for at least 26, 28 minutes. Losing JR, you assume that he and Matt have to really step up for us to play well. Matt is just now starting to play, and so is Pietrus. I’m shocked we’ve don as well as we’ve done without those guys being major contributors. I think Monta, Baron, Jack, Pietrus, guys that are playing a majority of the minutes have done a really good job.
(What kind of problem will it be if he’s here Feb. 22?)
It would be no problem for me. I think it’d probably be a positive for him too, one way or the other, once the trade deadline has passed, and he’s either gonna be here for the year or he’s not. It’s gonna help him as well.
(Was the meeting the reason behind putting him at the 3?)
No. That’s a mental thing. He feels if he’s a 3, he can play better, so I made him a 3. There’s not a lot of minutes there, however; Jack plays 40 minutes at the 3.
(He played some 4 last year.)
It didn’t change. It’s just in his mind. I don’t know.