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Daily Babble: Warriors Handling Pietrus Situation Well

The Warriors' front office continues to make Mickael Pietrus unhappy.

Mickael Pietrus continues to make the Warriors happy enough.

This is a victory for Chris Mullin and the staff in Oaktown.

According to the San Francisco ChroniclePietrus still wants out of Golden State, as he asserted at the onset of the season:

"We quietly requested a trade prior to the first date on which he could be traded this season, and we've repeated this request many times," [agent Bill] McCandless said. "There are several teams who would like to acquire Mike, and several offers have been made."

 "Mike has been asked to play out of position for all of this season," McCandless added. "He does not want to play the 4 and the 5. Mike doesn't want to be a corner spot-up shooter for whom no offensive plays are run. He simply feels he can contribute much more on both ends of the floor for another team. He truly hopes to be traded tomorrow."

Sure, it's unfortunate for the Warriors that a man who could be a valuable cog in their system wants out of town.  But the fact is that this time around, the team has all the leverage.  Thus far, the Dubs appear to be using it just as they should.

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As was discussed in this space when the swingman supposedly went on the market around the turn of the calendar, Pietrus is a versatile player who can fill a lot of roles in the Warriors' Nellieball system.  Though a small forward by trade, he can play a game much bigger than that indicated by his 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame, and he has done a fair bit of moonlighting at the four and occasionally the five for the Warriors.  Pietrus is very quick and can jump out of the gym, making him very useful on lobs, effective at driving to the basket and a reasonably decent on-ball defender. 

All of those characteristics are big assets to the Warriors.  Pietrus fits very well into their system as a utility man and someone who adds a lot of depth as a player who could take big minutes if another rotation mainstay goes down.  While Pietrus's production has fallen off a bit from last season, his minutes are way down (from 26.9 per game to 17 per), and when he has been on the floor, he has done just about all that has been asked of him.  Thus, he remains of value to the Warriors.

All that said, the Frenchman's desire to leave is understandable.  He prefers to play the three, and he believes he has the talent to play far greater minutes for other teams around the league, which he likely does.

But here's the kicker: Pietrus isn't in a position that allows him to do much more than to continue 'quietly requesting' trades.  Currently making $3.47 million in his walk year, it is evident that part of Pietrus's goal is to set himself up for a big pay day come summer.  He has done his job when asked, but he certainly hasn't played the minutes or put up the numbers to guarantee himself a mega-contract of any sort this summer.  Sure, someone might take a flyer on him, but it isn't a cinch.

The optimal situation for Pietrus then becomes getting traded to a place where he can play some big minutes and give himself a shot at the big money, as is occurring with Shawn Marion in Miami now.  However, Pietrus is currently employed by a team playing very good basketball and in the midst of a playoff run.  Interestingly enough, that team isn't necessarily going to be set on getting something back for Pietrus.  That team already needs to figure out how to pay the likes of Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Matt Barnes and possibly even Baron Davis (although one can hope he takes his $17-plus million player option) for next season, all of whom are major rotation players.  Adding salary in the sole interest of getting something of tangible value for Pietrus isn't a need at all for the Dubs.  Chances are, the Warriors can live with making their run with him as part of the team this season and the conceding his subsequent departure (and the removal of his salary from the payroll) in the summer.

And Pietrus isn't in a position to do anything to force Chris Mullin's hand.   If he threatens to sit out, he won't have any chance to raise his value for the summer, and he will end up costing himself money out of this year's pay check as well.  If he starts loafing, again, it will become harder for him to get the contract he likely desires through free agency.  He needs to play every minute he gets like it's his last no matter what uniform he is in, so as to make the best impression possible on teams around the league.  If there are only 17 of those minutes per game, so be it.  That's 17 minutes for Pietrus to spend raising his value each night.  He can't do that by sitting out in demand of a trade.

What all this means is that, in what seems like a rare occurrence in this day and age, for once the Warriors hold the power in the struggle between team and player.  They don't have to deal Mickael Pietrus until they are good and ready, if at all.  If they see an offer they like, great.  If not, eh, that's $3-plus million off the payroll at season's end.  In the meantime, Pietrus can only keep contributing everything he has to the Golden State cause.  Thus far, Chris Mullin seems to have been cognizant of these circumstances, as evidenced by his lack of haste toward moving Pietrus.  Which means that it is a win-win situation through and through for the Warriors. 

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