Andray Blatche was banished for his poor conditioning last season, but Coach Randy Wittman said he takes some pride in seeing the “tough love” resulting in some positive play for the talented, 6-foot-11 big man who often lacked the proper motivation.
The Wizards used the amnesty provision last July to waive Blatche – a move Blatche has since referred to as a “wake up call” – and he has responded with the most efficient season of his career.
“It takes something like that to happen to have your eyes open,” Wittman said as the Wizards prepared to face him for the first time in the regular season. “Absolutely, I’m not rooting against him. Trust me. I like him. I liked him when I was an assistant and when I was coach. And as a coach, you have to do the right thing for your team. That’s all I was trying to do. As I tell them, ‘It’s never personal.’ ”
Blatche was in good spirits as he sat in the visitor’s locker room at Verizon Center about 90 minutes before tipping off against his former team. He is already prepared for the jeers to come his way.
“They are going to react the same way they reacted when I was here,” Blatche said. “The only thing different now is I don’t play for them anymore more, so I expect it. It’s not going to affect me because you’re supposed to boo me, I’m on the other team. That’s the only thing different.”
Blatche said he has gotten a kick out of the reaction he has already received from some Wizards whenever he makes comments on Twitter or anywhere else.
“I just feel like they need to let it go. They’re just be petty, they’re jusy being a pest in my life. Let it go, man. I’m gone. You wanted me gone, I’m gone and you’re still not happy that I’m gone. That doesn’t make sense. You wanted me out of here and I’m gone – and y’all still bothering me. What else do you all want?”
Former teammate Trevor Booker joked that he hopes Blatche “makes it out alive” and added that he wished that he was healthy enough to shut him down in the game. Booker has been out for nearly six weeks with a strained right knee.
“Trevor doesn’t want these problems, he knows what it is,” Blatche said. “He just said all that cause he’s hurt, that’s the easy way out…He doesn’t have to be out here to get this wrath.”
When asked what he misses about Washington, Blatche said, “Outside of the arena and booing, the place is great.”
The Wizards will be without Trevor Ariza against the Nets, with Wittman determining that the swingman was unable to play on his strained left calf. “No setback, just not quite ready,” Wittman said. “Still some tightness after his workout yesterday and the shootaround this morning.”
Tipoff: 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 106.7 (WJFK FM)