To put it bluntly, this has been a terrible season for Andray Blatche. The 6-foot-11, seventh-year forward is shooting a career-low 38 percent, averaging just 10.3 points, has been hurt or playing hurt pretty much the whole time, and gets lustily booed at home games. For the first time in his career, Blatche will fail to improve on his scoring and rebounding production from the year before.
He was benched in favor of Jan Vesely on Jan. 27, and strained his left calf in a win over Charlotte the very next day. Blatche has missed the past 13 games, and 16 overall this season. The Wizards are bad with Blatche (4-13) and without him (3-13), though Trevor Booker, John Wall and Nick Young have played better in his absence.
Blatche wanted to assume more of a leadership role this season, and the Wizards named him team captain for the opener — only to strip him of the title after he blasted Flip Saunders, the coaching staff and his teammates for failing to get him the ball in the low block after the season-opening loss to New Jersey. His play has continued to frustrate and fans have been merciless at Verizon Center, booing him every time he touches the ball or misses a fallaway jumper. The jeers have made Blatche second-guess himself at home games and pass up scoring opportunities to avoid the reaction.
Former No. 1 overall pick Kwame Brown and Juwan Howard faced the same scorn after fans had grown weary of them.
The Wizards have aggressively tried to deal Blatche in advance of the March 15 trade deadline, according to multiple league sources, but struggled to find any takers. Blatche is certainly open to a change of scenery, according to a person close to him.
The team discussed dealing Blatche to Charlotte last month for Tyrus Thomas but were rejected, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. Blatche is still owed nearly $23 million after this season, and rival teams have expressed concern about his conditioning and character.
After failing to generate much interest last season, when he averaged 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds, the Wizards realize they face a more serious challenge trying to deal him now, when he has regressed and struggled to stay healthy.
They also understand they have to convince only one team to take a chance on a player who has shown several flashes of his ability in recent years. But as one person with knowledge of the team’s thinking shared recently, if they are unable to move Blatche at the deadline or in the offseason, they still have the amnesty clause at their disposal (Rashard Lewis can be bought out next season for $10 million).