[One of the last photos of Andray Blatche in a Wizards uniform? Credit: K. Weidie, TruthAboutIt.net]
Within the next six days, we’ll find out if 7-Day ‘Dray is here to stay. (Well, at least for another few months.)
The NBA’s summer amnesty period began yesterday and runs through July 17. Because the Wizards didn’t elect to amnesty anyone last summer, they’ve got one last chance to decide if they’re going to use it — and as the Washington Post‘s Michael Lee reports, the team is “seriously considering” parting ways with Andray Blatche’s three-year, $23 million contract. But should they?
One School of Thought: Yes, Drop Him!
About 75% of fans think Blatche has to go, per this Bullets Forever poll. Getting rid of Blatche would seem to complete what the Wizards began when they dealt fellow talented knuckleheads Nick Young and JaVale McGee in an effort at an extreme roster makeover.
And the front office soured on him long ago, too. Blatche may be a solid-shooting, reasonably athletic big man, but his sins as a Wizards employee include…
- The bad: Getting arrested for solicitation and reckless driving
- The worse: Seeming to be a selfish player, like comically attempting to get a triple double
- The worst: Showing up out-of-shape and appearing to consistently loaf through losses.
This year, the season was barely one game old before Blatche started calling out teammates and his coach, saying he needed the ball more; within days, Blatche was getting booed at home. You can understand why Randy Wittman reportedly never wants to coach Blatche again.
The Other Side: He’s Still an Asset…
But there’s also an argument to hang on to Blatche, especially if someone, somewhere can be convinced to trade for him. Once upon a season, he did have fans around the league; until 2011, Blatche was rightfully perceived as a true steal for the Wizards — a player with first-round talent who in 2005 fell to the Wizards at the 49th pick.
(To get a sense for how few contributors can be found that late in the draft, here are the last five players taken with the 49th pick: Kyle O’Quinn, Josh Selby, Ryan Richards, Sergiy Gladyr, and Richard Hendrix. Who? Exactly.)
And while last year was awful, Blatche delivered fair value for years before that. According to Basketball Prospectus‘ basic formula for calculating Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP), Blatche’s on-court performance in 2009-2010 was worth $9.4 million; he was getting paid $3 million. His current contract isn’t cheap, but it isn’t crushing either, especially if he can regain a fraction of his form.
What do you think the Wizards should do? Here’s what some of the TAI cognoscenti had to say, and cast your own vote below.
Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20): Give him one more chance
There were many reasons for Ted Leonsis to ixnay Ernie Grunfeld, but he saw the good in him like Luke saw in Darth Vader. That Nene trade made Leonsis take a step back and really appreciate the good moves Grunfeld could make happen. So Blatche, who signed a three-year extension under the Grunfeld administration, should be allowed to return, and be the first big man off the bench.
If he arrives in shape, embraces that bench role, and creates matchup hell for the opposing team’s bench players, that’s not bad for a player who is making starter’s money. If he plays well, the Wizards will have the option of keeping him for a possible playoff run, or trading him for something beneficial.
John Townsend (@JohnCTownsend): Addition by subtraction
Blatche is a nice kid who means well, but he’s also the one remaining link to a dismal and dysfunctional not-too-distant past. Last summer, he came into training camp boasting he was in the best shape of his life. Seven-Day ‘Dray, however, was still overweight, overpaid and inefficient — and he was the only Wizard who couldn’t finish the wind sprints at the end of practice.
By now, he’s been booed by the hometown fans, benched by at least three NBA head coaches and mentioned in trade talks for months. It’s time to move on. I know the franchise is loathe to pay players not to play, but Blatche is a textbook case of addition by subtraction.
Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It): Enough’s enough
As unnecessarily unhelpful the boos directed toward Blatche might have been last season — although justified, in a sense, rendering detractors of the act of booing unable to truly argue against the motion to dismiss – I don’t think many people realize how quickly and easily Andray could have redeemed himself. A hustle-play there, a dive on the floor here — it could’ve started small and built from there. We like a good redemption story, right?
Instead, Blatche compounded the problem by trying to do too much, by trying to be too much, all while retreating into his basketball shell. How Blatche has performed when the chips have been down is more of an indication than a third, or fourth, or fifth chance will ever provide.
Ultimately, his presence on the Wizards’ roster is a distraction for him, the franchise, and the fans. And if the Wizards brass hasn’t learned the lesson of limiting heart-felt distractions, then may the basketball gods help us.
Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis): Bring on Amnesty Blatche Festivus
Aside from maybe bringing back the Bullets nickname, using the amnesty clause on Andray Blatche would be the most popular move the organization could make for its fan base. Followers of this team are long finished with Blatche. All parties in this shattered relationship need a fresh start. Trading him would be an applicable solution, but swapping this bad asset is impossible without taking on another team’s junk contract and possibly being forced to sweeten up the offer with a player or pick(s). This is not in the best interest of the Wizards. Paying Blatche to stay away is just kicking the can down the road and destined to bring about a legitimate grievance from NBPA. This would drag the situation out and keep the negative issue lingering. It is unfair to Blatche’s professional career to not let him compete when he is healthy and the team is just as complicit in the problematic state of affairs.
Figuring out a buy out would be ideal from the Wizards perspective, but it would be professional malpractice for Blatche’s representatives to agree to such an arrangement where he receives a penny less than what Washington agreed to pay him two years ago. No one wants to see such a buy out standoff because Blatche is totally willing to wait it out in Miami. Twenty three million is a big ask to write off, yet, the Magic ate 62.4 million of Glibert Arenas’s contract and Mark Cuban swallowed 27.2 million of Brendan Haywood’s deal.
The way out is simple. Amnesty Blatche, own the mess up, and your paying customers will joyously let it slide. It will be lauded as a wise and beloved basketball decision, because it is one.