As reported earlier today, the Toronto Raptors have signed swingman Mickael Pietrus to a one-year contract worth the veteran’s minimum. Pietrus, who flew to Toronto from Pau, France on Wednesday, will be available for Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
Pietrus spoke with media during the team’s Friday morning shootaround and he let them know he’s happy to be in Toronto and ready to get things going.
He also talked about what he wants to bring to a team in desperate need of help at the small forward position.
“I’m going to do my best to help the team be successful. I think it’s a very young team. I think if you play hard every night, good things are going to happen. I’ve been on teams where we weren’t playing great. If you give your best effort every night, good things are going to happen.”
* Because he flew in from France, Pietrus’ agent Bill McCandless said that his client has is suffering from jetlag but he expects to play and has been working hard to be ready for whenever he was signed.
* While the Spurs inquired about Pietrus’ availability while Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson were out with injury, Pietrus wanted a fit for the season and was happy things could finally work out with the Raptors.
“San Antonio asked if he would be available for a month and that was a non-starter,” McCandless said. “At the end of the day, Toronto was the first time other than teams in the summer to step up with an offer and we rolled the dice.”
McCandless said the conversation with the Raptors started nearly two weeks ago and he talked with Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo throughout last weekend before they decided to move forward with things this week.
* Both shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and coach Dwane Casey were quick to credit recently-waived forward Dominic McGuire for the effort he gave with the team before being released.
“Dom did a good job in that situation as far as being a defender, but point wise we’re at a deficit a that wing position at point production,” Casey explained. “Not only that, but just running the floor defensive presence and experience. Mickael has played a lot of basketball, good years with Phoenix, a good year with Boston. He’s an experienced wing player at the three position that fills a lot of needs that we have.”
* When Casey was asked about the energy and personality that Pietrus will bring to a locker room that is working to stay positive while playing through injury and a disappointing start, he acknowledged that the team needs to find a balance.
“You need it,” he said. “Lightness and the toughness. You can be light and still be tough. I think that’s his [Pietrus] M.O. He’s a free spirit, but when the lights come on he’s tough. You need that not only on the defensive end, but on the offensive end as well.”
* While Pietrus will be available for the Raptors against the Suns, Linas Kleiza will remain in the starting lineup. The Raptors will have practice sessions on Saturday in Toronto and Sunday in Denver. Casey is relieved to have back-to-back practice sessions, both to get Pietrus caught up to speed and to give Kyle Lowry more time to get his conditioning back.
Casey acknowledged that Lowry hasn’t been the same player that started the season, but explained that’s normal when a guy misses two and a half weeks and isn’t getting regular practice time (as a result of a packed schedule) to get back into game-shape.
* DeRozan said the addition of Pietrus will benefit him especially, because it will stretch the floor and give him more space on the offensive end of the floor. He also pointed to having the option of kicking the ball out to Pietrus when he’s doubled, an area where McGuire — a defensive stopper not known for his scoring ability — wasn’t able to help the team.