Nine teams under the salary cap have the ability to claim recently cut forward Andray Blatche off the waiver wire by Thursday, but for a number of reasons, Cleveland, Houston, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento and Toronto are expected to pass.
Blatche, 25, is the youngest of the 14 players to get cut using the amnesty provision, but the price tag for claiming him and his reputation around the league make it more than likely that he will soon become an unrestricted free agent.
A team would have to make a minimum bid of at least $3.79 million – the sum of minimum salaries over the next three years – in order to claim Blatche. Most of those teams under the salary cap are young and rebuilding and wouldn’t want to add a potential distraction to the locker room. Three front office executives from teams with cap room were adamant that they would not touch Blatche.
The Wizards aggressively tried to trade Blatche in the past year, but couldn’t find any takers. And they would’ve had to sacrifice an asset to move Blatche, according to league sources.
Blatche will surely attract some interest for the league minimum. For all of his baggage, Blatche remains a skilled 6-foot-11 big man who has averaged nearly 10 points per game over his seven-year career. The league is always willing to take a chance on size, and Blatche could possibly be a productive NBA player if he lands in a stable environment.
The Wizards are trying to establish a more professional locker room and felt that wouldn’t occur with Blatche around. Even if they hadn’t used the amnesty provision, the Wizards had no use for Blatche and were prepared to keep him away from the team like Indiana and Jamaal Tinsley after Tinsley had a falling out with then-coach Rick Carlisle.
The relationship between the two sides had deteriorated considerably, and Blatche’s camp feared that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to play next season without the Wizards cutting him. Now Blatche will receive $23 million and the chance to earn more money over the next three years.
Blatche has been working out in Houston with former NBA coach John Lucas, who has helped many players rehabilitate their careers. Blatche told CSN Washington on Tuesday that he was ready to move on after a difficult season in Washington.
“I’m excited I get another chance to go somewhere else and prove my talent and have fun, go back to playing the game without doubting myself and just relaxing, be fun and just to [have] fun playing the game I love to play,” Blatche said. “And hopefully I can get on another team somewhere and get to work.”
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