As training camp and the preseason near, the Nets appear to have their rotation in place. One familiar name absent from that list is big man Andray Blatche.
After two relatively successful seasons in Brooklyn, the skilled center remains without a contract. He waffled in and out of former head coach Jason Kidd’s rotation, but the current Filipino national team star still managed 11.2 ppg and 5.3 rpg.
While Blatche has developed a reputation as somewhat of a knucklehead, he is arguably one of the most talented interior big men the league has to offer. When not settling for lengthy jump shots, he boasts a plethora of inside moves. Toronto Raptors coach Dwayne Casey referred to him as a “match-up nightmare” during the 2013 playoffs.
Surprisingly, that “nightmare” is still without a team.
Blatche met with the Raptors early on in free agency, and the Miami Herald reported that the Heat are interested in his services. Pat Reilly’s team is also looking at Elton Brand and Jason Maxiell.
However, the Nets are not operating in a position of great strength, so walking away from Blatche is not a complete no-brainer. Aside from an injury-prone Brook Lopez and a 38-year old Kevin Garnett, Mason Plumlee is the only other center on the Nets roster.
Mirza Teletovic has the ability to play power forward in an undersized lineup, but Lionel Hollins’ strength lies on twin bigs. He achieved success with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, and he will likely apply that same formula with Garnett and Lopez.
Unfortunately, the long-term health of those two players is very much a crapshoot. Having a player like Blatche, who converted 47.6 percent of his field goals and nearly 75 percent of his free-throws is not a horrible Plan B.
Providing the aforementioned Nets bigs stay healthy, Billy King can afford to move on without Blatche. Should Brooklyn need to rely on young forward Cory Jefferson and Plumlee, the burgeoning center, they might be in for a long season.
Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors believes that Blatche’s locker-room conduct is a deterrent for many teams:
“There are questions about his character, dating back to his pre-amnesty days with the Wizards and reverberating most recently in a report about the Heat’s longstanding reservations about his maturity and behavior. Another dispatch asserted that Blatche’s midseason absence this past year was a de facto suspension meted out by then-coach Jason Kidd, a punishment that left Nets management impressed with the coach. But such trouble has not kept lesser players out of the league.”
Blatche does have the talent, though. The Nets would be hard-pressed to find a replacement as suitable should the need arise.