After salvaging his rocky career in Brooklyn last season, Andray Blatche has reportedly decided to run it back with the Nets for another year.
Free agency officially opened on Monday, July, 1 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time. Although teams and players can begin having contact as of July 1, deals cannot be officially consummated until the end of the free agency moratorium on July 10.
Blatche, 26, signed a one-year, veteran's minimum deal with the Nets last year after the Wizards used their amnesty clause to release him. He averaged 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 19.0 minutes for the Nets last season, playing in all 82 games and shooting a career-high 51.2 percent from the field. Sent home by the Wizards during the 2011-12 season because he was out of shape, Blatche languished on the open market last summer, working with John Lucas in an attempt to repair his reputation and conditioning.
Brooklyn did well to buy low on Blatche, as his bounce-back year and low-budget deal made him one of the most improved players and one of the best values in the NBA. His 22.0 PER put him among the league's best centers and his per-minute scoring and rebounding numbers were among the best of his career.
Bad blood between Blatche and the Wizards apparently remains to this day. Blatche, who has a laundry list of off-court incidents to his name, accused the Wizards of trying to ruin his reputation last November. Then, in March, he told the New York Daily News that he would take less money in free agency this summer because it would require the Wizards to pay more under the league's amnesty rules.
“If I get a lot (in my next contract), yeah, it’s going to take pressure off the Wizards,” he said. “But that’s why I’m not going to do that.”
Blatche was under contract with the Wizards through the 2014-15 season; the more money he signs for between now and the end of that deal, the less the Wizards are obligated to pay him.
Re-signing with the Nets is about more than just sticking it to the Wizards. Brooklyn offers Blatche the combination of a desirable market, a chance to make a meaningful postseason run, and a major rotation role. By agreeing to trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett last week, the Nets put themselves in position to be one of the Eastern Conference's top four or five teams next season; as both Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries were shipped to Boston to acquire the two Celtics stars, Blatche pencils in as the third big man behind Brook Lopez and Garnett. GRADE: A. Blatche comes with plenty of baggage, as his time in Washington included an arrest for soliciting a prostitute, an incident in which he traded punches with a teammate, spats with coaches, and an infamous “Lapdance Tuesday” promotion. Trouble continued to follow him during his Nets tenure. Back in January, he was questioned by Philadelphia Police in connection with an alleged sexual assault. The terms of this deal remove any risk exposure his off-court decision-making might generate. The Nets, capped out like crazy, need all the value plays and able frontcourt bodies they can get. Blatche fits both bills, and his retention will be celebrated as long as he continues to keep his head on straight.