Our writers go roundtable style grading the Brooklyn Nets re-signing Andray Blatche to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million, discussing what he needs to do next season, and what Brooklyn’s next move is.
1. Grade the Andray Blatche signing:
- Justin DeFeo: A. Not sure you’re going to get more value for a backup center than Andray Blatche. A one year deal assures the Nets minimum risk, while also making sure Blatche has the motivation to continue falling in line. If his production matches or exceeds last season, the Nets hit a home run.
- Devin Kharpertian: A. The Nets a) brought back their most productive big man off the bench and the best backup offensive center in the league, b) brought him back on a contract that didn’t disrupt any of the Nets’ salary exceptions, and c) brought him back on just a one-year deal, meaning he has to prove that last season wasn’t just a fluke. Great value for a really good player, even if his motivations were to screw the Wizards.
- William Rausch: A. Not a game-changing move, but it’s hard to undersell the value the Nets get for an NBA pittance. The ever-enigmatic Andray Blatche returns to Brooklyn, where he posted a gaudy 21.9 PER in 19 minutes per game as Brook Lopez’s backup. He can provide some much-needed rest to new aging mentor, Kevin Garnett. The signing also gives Jason Kidd a plethora of big combinations (Plumlee/Blatche, Blatche/Evans, Plumlee/Evans, etc.) off the bench.
If things don’t work out with Blatche, the Nets can be done with him. If they do, they get Blatche’s early Bird rights. Plus, Brooklyn maintains it’s mid-level exception this season, meaning Deron Williams’s social media courting of Kyle Korver may not be in vain.
Finally, because of the amnesty rules, Andray gets over $8 million per year over the next two years anyway from the Washington Wizards. A win for everybody involved, except, of course, the Wizards.
- Max Weisberg: A. Andray Blatche really hates Washington.
2. Blatche’s X-Factor in 2013-14 is…
- DeFeo: Nets culture. Garnett said of a Celtics teammate once, “he’ll either play defense or we won’t talk to him,” and he was 100% serious. But besides KG, the Nets will have a roster full of no-nonsense veterans (including their coach) who will only tolerate winning. For Blatche to be part of the solution, he’ll need to follow suit and bring it on the defensive end. Talent has never been an issue for Blatche, now it’s about bringing focus and intensity — daily.
- Kharpertian: His relationship with Kevin Garnett, Lawrence Frank, Jason Kidd, strip clubs, and cheeseburgers, and hopefully in that order.
- Rausch: Maybe it is already too cliché, but his relationship with KG. Sure, head coach Jason Kidd and assistant coach Lawrence Frank might help whip boneheaded Blatche into shape, but nothing can compare to having the insanely intense Garnett in the locker room and on the court with Dray. Can KG go from nearly making Blatche cry to crafting Agent Zero into his protegé? ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!
- Weisberg: Defense and commitment to his health. Blatche’s weight gain late this season was it noticeable on first glance, and his on-court production suffered. If Blatche maintains a healthy diet and keeps himself fit throughout the season, he will be a huge piece for the Nets as he was last season. Blatche’s weak defense must improve if the Nets want to be contenders.
With Kevin Garnett likely on a minutes restriction, coach Jason Kidd will probably rely on a Blatche-Lopez combo more often than not. The defensive numbers were not kind to this combo last season (though the overall numbers were), but if KG can teach defensive instincts to Blatche, he could be the steal of the offseason.
3. What’s Brooklyn’s next move?
- DeFeo: Shooting. Preferably someone athletic, but given the choice, I’d take shooting first. There is a reason guys like Kyle Korver and Mike Dunleavy are so coveted and that’s because perimeter shooting is essential to any good offense’s spacing. The Nets can put four skilled players capable of breaking down a defense on the floor at all times now. They’ll just need a sniper to make collapsing defenses pay.
- Kharpertian: The wing. The Nets don’t need to spend much time on their point guard situation — Deron Williams is going to play 36 minutes a night, and the Nets have four rotation guys (Tyshawn Taylor, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry) that can handle the rest of the facilitation duties in spot situations. They have shooting, but could always use more. It would be perfect if the Nets got a “3 and D” kind of guy (ironically, kind of like Keith Bogans), but not many of those are available in this market on the cheap, and the Nets only have their mini-MLE.
My guess? Considering how hard Williams is pursuing Kyle Korver on social media, you’ll see him next.
- Rausch:Get Deron Williams some Photoshop lessons. D-Will has been courting his former Utah Jazz teammate Kyle Korver pretty hard today. With Blatche signed, the sharp-shooting 11 year NBA veteran becomes free agent target #1. Shortly after free agency began last night, it was reported that Korver to the Nets was “in the bag,” but nearly 24 hours later it hasn’t happened yet. Korver would have to take a significant pay cut to move to 620 Atlantic Avenue. If D-Will touches up the photo of Korver wearing a Nets jersey, I think it is a lock that hipsters will be ironically mistaking Korver for Ashton Kutcher next season.
- Weisberg: A shooter. Could it be Kyle Korver? Hopefully, but unlikely. Could it be Marco Belinelli? Fine with me. If the Nets can get a shooter off the bench using their mini-MLE, their second unit will solidify, poised to allow for the minutes restrictions needed with the Nets’ starters.