After spending the first seven years of his career with the Washington Wizards, Andray Blatche was amnestied in an attempt to change the culture in Washington.
Understandably, Blatche was upset after coming into the season overweight and playing alongside a JaVale McGee and Nick Young to make a laughable trio on the court.
“They could’ve explained exactly what was going on. They’ve could’ve had my back. They could’ve done anything. I don’t care what they could’ve done. It could’ve been small, than to say, you know what, ‘This is our escape route. We’re going to leave him out for himself. He’s going to have to fend for himself now,’ ” Blatche said. “No, that’s not what you do when it’s your family. And supposedly say this is a brotherhood. That’s not what you do. I don’t care, whatever my brother, my uncle, my sister, whatever anybody does, I’m going to have their back 100 percent. And that’s what you do with family. That’s all I’m saying.
And Blatche was alone, with no teams interested in his services. His attitude in Washington made teams wary of his ways and contenders or rebuilding teams wanted nothing to do with the 6’11″ forward.
“It was a reality check,” Blatche said. “I almost lost something that I love doing, so you can say it was a wake-up call.”
Only nothing happened. Blatche’s phone didn’t ring. July, August, nothing.
“Oh yeah,” Blatche said. “During the summer, I didn’t get no phone calls.”
But then something did happen. Someone gave him a chance when no one would. That man was Brooklyn Nets head coach Avery Johnson.
“I think it’s well documented that I worked him out before the season at my home outside of Houston and I talked to John Lucas about him, and I think for me on the court, I’m not surprised,” Johnson said. “Blatche is talented. He’s a multi-offensive player. He can pass, dribble and shoot. He can play in the low post, he can play at the high post, so he’s talented offensively and he’s learning more and more how to play in our system and with his teammates.
So Johnson signed Blatche to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal. Blatche changed numbers, picking the No. 0 to signify a change in his attitude on and off the court.
“Everybody thought I was going to be out of the league,” Blatche said. “Zero reminds me I didn’t have any support system outside of my immediate family, nobody who thought I was going to bounce back and get on another team.”
Other than one outburst, noted earlier, in which he called out the Wizards for not supporting him, Blatche has been the perfect teammate and player. He’s continued working himself into shape, eating right, following the rules and using his clean slate to change the way analysts and fans look at him.
But all that could very well change with Johnson’s firing Thursday.
After starting out the season winning six of their first eight games, the Nets slumped throughout December, losing 10 of their last 13 games, including a Christmas Day beat down that caught the eyes of upper management followed by a 15-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, P.J. Carlesimo will be named interim coach.
Blatche is averaging 21 minutes per game, while shooting a career-high 49 percent from the field for 11 points and six rebounds per game.
Check back at KJG as we follow Blatche and the Nets’ progress from here.