Steinmetz: How to invest in Mickael Pietrus

Now that the Warriors and coach Don Nelson have come to an agreement, there seems to be only one loose end to tie up: Mickael Pietrus.

The Jekyll-and-Hyde Pietrus has in front of him a one-year qualifying offer of $3.5 million from the Warriors. He can sign that contract, continue to wait for another team to make a better offer or hold out and hope that the Warriors will sign him to a longer deal only to move him to another team.

Pietrus entered the league in 2003 with a defensive mind-set and lots of athletic ability. The commitment to defense has waned in recent years, but his athleticism remains. The bottom line is that Pietrus hasn’t been as good as fans had hoped.

It’s not that Pietrus has been a disappointment; he hasn’t. It’s just that he has turned into an exasperating player, capable of both inspiring and ineffectual basketball. Anyone who has watched Pietrus knows he’s not a cerebral player, but he’s smart enough to know the Warriors don’t seem to want him around for the long haul.

Apparently nobody else does, either.

Quite frankly, I didn’t think Pietrus would be back this season, and I didn’t really mind that idea. He still could be gone by November, but I’ve changed my mind about him.

Here’s making a case for Pietrus returning:

Of course, I can’t stand it when Pietrus steps on the sideline before he drives baseline or fouls a guy on the perimeter for no apparent reason. And I don’t like it when any two-guard can’t shoot 65 percent from the line.

But if you accept his limitations, and, more importantly, accept that they might hurt you on occasion, you can better appreciate what Pietrus does bring. He’s going to have more good games than bad, though more of the time he’ll be run of the mill.

Pietrus is as explosive as any player on the Warriors, capable of six-minute binges that change the complexion of games. Some nights he helps you on the boards, other times he’ll be the one knocking down 3s.

And because the Warriors rely so heavily on the 3-pointer, it helps to have at least one guy willing to go the basket, which the slashing Pietrus will do.

In short, Pietrus is a wild card, the kind of player who every now and then gives you a lift right when you need it. Do you want Pietrus to be better? Do you wish he were more consistent? Of course. But if you view Pietrus as a luxury and not a necessity, his worth soars.

No doubt, Pietrus is likely miffed why the Warriors won’t offer him a long-term contract, or for that matter, why no one else will, either. He shouldn’t be.

If Pietrus ever developed a full-on defensive mind-set — like Bruce Bowen, Raja Bell or even Quinton Ross — he’d get that big contract he wants. Maybe even from the Warriors.

You have to accept Pietrus for the high-risk, high-reward player he is. For now, that’s still something the Warriors can use.

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.

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