The Wizards had until Tuesday to make the decision and gave Blatche the $23 million remaining on his contract to go away, ending a seven-year relationship that began when they drafted him 49th overall in 2005. Blatche is the last remnant of the Wizards’ playoff teams and he also was the only player remaining from the team when Gilbert Arenas brought guns in the locker room three seasons ago.
“Andray did not figure into our future plans, and using the amnesty provision is a mutually beneficial opportunity for us to part ways,” President Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. “We will be able to continue to develop our core group of young players, blend in the solid veterans we have acquired and maintain financial flexibility while Andray will be able to get a fresh start with another team. We wish him the best moving forward.”
Blatche’s representatives have already been informed of the decision.
“We appreciate the opportunity to have a fresh start and appreciate the time, effort and care shown by the Wizards,” Blatche’s agent, Andy Miller, said.
Blatche, 25, was considered one of the Wizards’ primary building blocks when they elected to trade away Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Arenas nearly two years ago, and rewarded him in September 2010 with a three-year extension that restructured his existing contract to be worth $35 million over five years.
But disappointing play and some questionable off-court behavior made him expendable with the Wizards moving in a different direction around former No. 1 overall pick John Wall. Wall, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin, all entering their third seasons, are now the longest tenured Wizards.
Blatche’s role was diminished almost entirely last season, when he averaged just 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds and Coach Randy Wittman shut him down to get better conditioned. He becomes the sixth player to get waived this month under the amnesty provision, which allows teams to cut a player and have their salary removed from the books.
He will receive his money over the same three-year period, but he will stand the chance to earn more money if he clears waivers in the next 48 hours.
The Wizards decided that the cost of cutting Blatche outweighed the distraction of his continued presence on a team that is obviously moving on. In the past four months, the team has traded for Nene and Emeka Okafor, and has drafted four forwards — Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, Booker and Seraphin — in the past three years.
Blatche has been one of the more prominent faces during the worst four-year run in franchise history. Since the start of the 2008-09 season, the Wizards have gone 88-224.