Blatche has been a disappointment since signing a three-year extension in 2010 that restructured his existing contract to be worth $35 million over five years. Uneven play on the court and questionable decisions away from the court have made Blatche a target of derision from fans at Verizon Center and a once-supportive front office has been seriously considering options to part ways.
One person with knowledge of the Wizards’ thinking said this week that there is a “fair” chance that the team would waive Blatche. But before asking owner Ted Leonsis to give Blatche the remaining $23 million on his contract to just go away, the Wizards continue to work the phones in an effort to find a palatable trade for 6-foot-11 forward, according to sources.
The Wizards were unsuccessful in their efforts to move Blatche at the trade deadline and around the NBA draft, and one league source remained doubtful that he could be dealt “unless [the Wizards] give up a major asset to provoke the trade.”
Blatche, the longest-tenured player on the roster and the last remaining player from their playoff teams, regressed statistically for the first time in his seven-year career last season, when he averaged 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in just 26 games.
Coach Randy Wittman shut down Blatche last March, In doing so, he banned Blatche from traveling with the team on the road so Blatche could improve his conditioning.
Wittman, who was given a two-year deal last month, has deflected questions about Blatche, who doesn’t appear to be part of the Wizards’ long-term plans even if he does survive the amnesty deadline. President Ernie Grunfeld has responded to media inquiries about Blatche by stating, “He’s under contract.”
Blatche has been getting in shape in Houston with John Lucas, but when asked about how those training sessions have progressed, Blatche wrote a text message that read, “Not really into talkin about it been talkin long enough and too much.”
The Wizards drafted 6-11 forward Jan Vesely with the sixth pick in the 2011 draft and added big man Emeka Okafor from New Orleans in a trade last month, pushing Blatche further down on the depth chart.
Blatche had already lost his starting spot to energetic forward Trevor Booker last season. The team acquired Okafor and Trevor Ariza instead of buying out Rashard Lewis for $13.7 million, raising the perception for some in the league that Leonsis was unwilling to dump Blatche without getting anything in return.
If Blatche were to return, the Wizards also have the option of keeping Blatche on the roster and paying him to stay away, as the Indiana Pacers did with Jamaal Tinsley four years ago. Cutting Blatche would remove his salary from the cap — reducing the payroll by nearly $7.1 million next season — but the actual impact on the books is negligible.