Several media sources have reported that Andray Blatche will re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets, after meeting with Coach Jason Kidd on the first day of the NBA Free Agency period. Blatche, who had a breakout season for the the Nets last year, had been receiving calls from several other teams including the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors. But Blatche decided to return to the team that gave him a chance last season after being released by the Washington Wizards for some off the court issues. Blatche averaged 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season, while finishing 14th in the league in Player Efficiency Rating (second on the team only to Brook Lopez.)
Although Blatche was quite adamant about wanting to return to Brooklyn there was some speculation that he might jump ship for a bigger pay day but he returned for a veteran minimum 1 year, $1.4 million deal. Despite losing out on some money this season by returning to the Nets, this will end up being the best move Blatche can make. Oh, and he is still owed $15 million over the next two years by the Wizards, so he should be just fine.
By re-signing with the Nets he will have a chance to play alongside 5 All-Stars and should get significant minutes. Since he can play both the 4 and the 5 plenty of opportunities will be available for him. The Nets will also be monitoring Kevin Garnett’s minutes throughout the season, meaning Blatche should see solid court time with some of the starters. Blatche will have plenty of easy opportunities at the basket as the opposing defense will have to concentrate on the likes of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Brook Lopez. Defensively, look for Blatche to improve also. Garnett has made it very clear in the past that he doesn’t tolerate players that do not give full effort on both ends of the court and Blatche will learn a lot from one of the best big men to ever play.
Also, expect the Nets to get a lot of national TV attention this season, especially if they make a long playoff run like many suspect they will. Blatche will have great exposure heading into a huge free agency season for him. Next summer, if he has a good season, he will have a number of suitors knocking on his door with big contracts in hand. Or if he wants to stay in Brooklyn, the Nets will have his Bird rights and can give him more than the veteran minimum.
For the Nets, they get a good scoring big man off the bench that gives them versatility at the 4 and the 5. If Blatche, is as productive as he was last season he will be an absolute steal for $1.4 million. He provides a very deep frontcourt for the Nets, who will have Blatche, Reggie Evans, Mason Plumlee and Mirza Teletovic vying for time off the bench. The combination of scoring, rebounding and shooting big men off the bench will provide for a number of different looks for Kidd to bring in the game at various stretches.
The most important thing that Blatche brings is depth to a team that had its bench issues last season. For a team with, arguably, the best overall starting lineup in basketball they will need to have productive minutes from their role players if they want to make a long run. Blatche, newly acquired Jason Terry and, potentially, 3-point specialist free agent Kyle Korver will be the keys to their bench scoring.
As was apparent in the playoffs this season a bench can win or lose a team a series. The Indiana Pacers really struggled against the Miami Heat when their bench unit came on the court and that came back to haunt them. In the Finals, the San Antonio Spurs received great production from role players Danny Green, Gary Neal and Boris Diaw when stars Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili struggled early in the series. However, Miami’s production from players like Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Norris Cole and Chris “Birdman” Andersen ended up being too much, along with the “Big 3” for the Spurs to handle.
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