NEW YORK Christmas has come a little early for the Boston Celtics, with the addition of a much-needed wing player to help fill the void left behind with Jeff Green (heart surgery) out for the season.
Mickael Pietrus, who negotiated a buyout with the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, cleared waivers Saturday night and as expected, signed on with the Boston Celtics.
"His skills as a perimeter defender and an outside shooter provide great versatility to the roster," Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge said in a statement released by the Celtics.
Prior to the C's announcing the deal, CSNNE.com reported that the 29-year-old had committed to the joining the Celtics.
His agent, Bill McCandless, told CSNNE.com shortly after Pietrus cleared Waivers Saturday night that he was in the process of finalizing a contract with the Celtics.
McCandless did not indicate the terms of the new deal, but the Celtics only have the veteran's minimum available.
That means the eight-year veteran would receive a pro-rated salary of about 1.2 million.
Pietrus choosing the Celtics is not that surprising.
Sources told CSNNE.com moments after the Suns released Pietrus on Thursday that the 6-foot-6 wing player was leaning "heavily" towards signing with the Celtics.
McCandless told CSNNE.com that night that Pietrus would "for sure" include the C's on his list of considerations.
It's unclear if Pietrus will be with the C's for Sunday's Christmas Day matchup against the New York Knicks. But barring an unexpected snafu, he'll most likely make his Celtics debut on Tuesday in Miami.
For the Celtics, the addition of Pietrus bodes well on a number of fronts.
After striking out in attempts to acquire Chris Paul and later David West, to beat out a handful of teams (New York and the Los Angeles Lakers among them) for a player of Pietrus' caliber provides proof that Boston may not be as bad a free agent destination as some might believe.
While the Celtics have what on paper appears to be a better bench than last season's second unit, they were sorely lacking an athletic wing player to compete defensively against the likes of Miami's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or New York's Carmelo Anthony.
And by signing Pietrus for this season at the veteran's minimum, the C's will preserve significant salary cap space for this summer's free agent class.
In Boston, what players do in the regular season is much less important than what they accomplish in the playoffs.
Although Pietrus doesn't have a ton of postseason experience (49 games), he did make quite an impression on the Celtics during their playoff series in 2009 with the Orlando Magic.
In that series, Pietrus averaged 12.1 points while shooting 62.8 percent from the field and 34.4 percent on 3s.
However, it was his play in Games 6 and 7 - both Orlando wins - that stood out. In Game 6, he had 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting which included a pair of 3-pointers. And in the decisive Game 7, he was nearly flawless with 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting which included him making all three of his 3-pointers.
In the NBA Finals that year, the Magic were eliminated in five games by the Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged 9.8 points per game in the Finals, which included 18 points in Game 2 - the only game Orlando won in the series.
So it's clear that Pietrus has had moments in which he has delivered big-time performances in pressure-packed situations, the kind of performances the Celtics hope to see from the 29-year-old as they begin yet another journey to bring home Banner 18.