With the Brooklyn Nets slumping despite Monday’s home win over the Clippers, and trade rumors swirling around the team’s highest paid players, at least two Nets players would welcome the return of center Andray Blatche, who spent the first five months of the season in China.
Brooklyn, Memphis and Miami are among atleast three teams interested in Blatche, according to ESPN New York, whose Chinese club failed to reach the postseason, making the volatile nine-year vet a free agent.
So would Nets players be happy to have Blatche back in the fold if the team elected to re-sign him?
“Of course,” reserve guard Alan Anderson told SheridanHoops. “He was my teammate last year, so anyone who could help our team we could definitely use that.”
Blatche’s two most productive years in terms of efficiency stats like PER, Win Shares and True Shooting percentage, came in his two seasons with the Nets. He averaged just over 11 points and five rebounds per game last season on 47.6 percent shooting in 22.2 minutes per contest with Brooklyn, helping the team reach the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Blatche enjoyed great success for Chinese side Xinjiang, where he averaged over 31 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and two steals per game and was quite the fan favorite around the league, according to our Chinese basketball correspondent Andrew Crawford. And he made about $2.5 million for five months of work, so taking the veteran’s minimum could conceivably not be an issue for Blatche.
What is an issue for the Nets is frontcourt depth. Mirza Teletovic is out for the season with bilateral pulmonary embolus, or blood clots in his lungs, and Kevin Garnett has seen his minutes reduced as the season’s gone on. Garnett was down to 17.4 minutes per game in January and Brooklyn could use another player in its big man rotation.
“Anybody he brings in,” guard Darius Morris said of general manager Billy King, “it’s because they feel who can help the team. So I’d be happy.”
King spoke to the Nets’ website before Monday’s game and indicated that the team would not be making any trades before the All-Star Break. But in the few days before the trade deadline, Blatche could certainly take up one of Brooklyn’s potentially vacant roster spots.
Brooklyn’s reported interest in Blatche seems a bit odd, considering they reportedly could not wait to get rid of him after the 2013-2014 season. Blatche waived his $1.7 million player option for the 2014-2015 season last June, which made him a free agent. With nearly $8.5 million in amnesty money due to him in ’14-’15 from Washington, Blatche was seemingly due for a gigantic payout.
But instead of finding a lucrative deal on the open market, his issues off the court evidently far outweighed the value he had on the floor— to the point where no NBA team would give him a contract he desired over the summer.
After striking out in free agency, Blatche suited up for the Philippines in the FIBA World Championships as a naturalized citizen, where he averaged over 21 points and a tournament best 13.8 rebounds per game. He then signed in China in late September.
With Brooklyn currently 25th in the league in scoring and 22nd in rebounding per game, the addition of Blatche in any capacity would help. The Nets are 17th in the league in bench points scored and 18th in bench points allowed per game, according to HoopsStats.com.
At least a pair of Nets players are on board with a potential Blatche return, but whether Billy King wants Blatche back or whether Blatche wants to return to Brooklyn remains to be seen.