Johan Petro: Cheaper than Travis Outlaw

Final Stats: 77 G, 1 GS, 11.6 MPG, 3.5 PPG,0 .6 APG, 2.7 RPG, 0.4 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 45% FG, 54% FT, 9.91 PER,  92 Ortg

When does a guy who only plays 11 minutes a game backing up a a player who has never missed a game in his NBA career become a lighting rod for fans? When your front office agrees to pay that guy more than $9 million over three years despite not demonstrating anything throughout his career that would indicate he could be an effective NBA player.

Yes, it’s only about $3 million a year and there’s only two-years left on his contract, which means Petro is at least not the immovable rock anchor tied around the organization’s ankle that Travis Outlaw is, but the Petro deal is still indicative of an organization that spent poorly last summer and now has to consider creative ways to shed that salary so they can build a legitimate contender around their star PG moving forward. Back in January, Petro was one of the key guys going to Detroit in the proposed three-team trade between the Nets, Pistons and Nuggets that would have brought to New Jersey an even bigger salary albatross in Richard Hamilton. And P.S., the Pistons still wanted a draft pick for the trouble of taking Petro, despite shedding Rip’s otherwise immovable deal.

What’s so bad about Petro? He’s got an athletic build and is 7-feet-tall, yet he doesn’t block shots and his rebounding rate of 14.0 is about league average for a Center (at least he’s a better rebounder than Brook Lopez). Additionally, he shows little to zero effort or instincts on offense, settling for jumpers 70 percent of the time, according to 82games. For a team that needs a little bit of muscle and toughness off the bench, or maybe some instant offense, Petro provides neither. He’s just there, putting together a season that Josh Boone could have given the organization if he wasn’t in China though I can’t recall Petro ever getting blocked by the rim like Boone, though he wasn’t able to properly cup the ball for a dunk on a fast break against the Knicks in April.

The Pink Shirt: What Petro lacks in basketball ability, he more than makes up for in humanity. In April, after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Petro got onto Twitter where he has more than 340,000 followers and helped raise money for “Save the Children.” In an otherwise dreary April for the organization, Petro’s charity efforts deserve to be commended.

The Paper Bag: It’s difficult to isolate one game for Petro, so let’s look at his February. With the entire team on the trading block and Derrick Favors’ being showcased to the league, Petro finds it getting harder and harder to log minutes, shooting only 37 percent and grabbing 2 rebounds in 10 minutes a game for the month. Meanwhile in an indictment of how poorly this team’s bench was constructed, Petro was actually forced into a start at PF against the 76ers in April before being replaced by the great Dan Gadzuric.

Final Verdict: When you look at some of the Centers with a lower PER this season than Petro, at least Kendrick Perkins was coming off an injury, Joel Anthony is an effective shot blocker and screen setter for the Miami Superfriends and Jason Collins has the defensive chops to aggravate Atlanta’s arch nemesis in Dwight Howard. But what did Petro bring to the Nets and what can honestly be expected the next two seasons? He’s well below replacement-level in production and he doesn’t specialize in any one particular thing except heaving 18-footers, the most inefficient FG attempt in basketball. In short, Petro is the model of basketball inefficiency, and that’s without even considering his contract, which needs to be moved and likely will be moved at the risk of sending a draft pick or taking back another untalented/injured player like the deal that sent Yi Jianlian to Washington last summer for Quinton Ross and cash.

For the contingent of the fan base that just wants other Nets fans to stop complaining about Petro and to swallow this bitter pill because the team’s owner is a billionaire and nobody was going to sign in NJ for any less last summer, THAT’S the problem we have with this guy. You can’t expect the front office to be perfect, and there’s something to be said about the stigma for playing in Jersey, but I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out what Rod Thorn/Avery Johnson ever saw in this guy.

Final Grade: D