That was Nets general manager Billy King’s exact, uh, word, when asked on the record in July if he’d reached out to Andray Blatche, who’d spent the last two years with the Nets and was now a free agent. It came shortly after he said he’d reached out to all of his team’s free agents.
Oh, so Blatche too.
But Blatche’s time with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers has come to a close, and it seems the Nets may have had a change of heart. Via ESPN’s Mike Mazzeo and Marc Stein:
Sources told ESPN.com that the Nets are among the teams tracking Blatche, who just became a free agent after his team in China failed to reach the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs.
The Nets have one open roster spot and, according to sources, are on a list of Blatche suitors that also includes the Memphis Grizzlies. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Miami Heat will rekindle their long-standing interest in Blatche, given the recent emergence of big man Hassan Whiteside with the Heat.
King was later elusive on CBS radio that same July day, merely saying that he had his “reasons” for choosing not to reach out to Blatche, who’d put together the two best seasons of his career in Brooklyn. Despite blossoming into one of the league’s most dominant offensive big men off the bench, the team was fed up with Blatche’s off-court antics, and decided to part ways with the seven-footer entirely.
Blatche ended up out of the league entirely, played for the Filipino National Men’s Basketball Team in the FIBA World Cup as a naturalized Filipino, despite not being Filipino. He later signed with the Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, averaging 31.1 points, 14.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.8 steals, and 4 turnovers in 38.6 minutes per game, with a shooting split of 62.9 FG%-37.2 3P%-77.7 FT%, and one of, well, whatever you’d call the below per season.
Depth at center may be the last thing the Nets need right now, but a spot would open up if they end up dealing Brook Lopez for wing players before the February 19th trade deadline.
Since Blatche didn’t sign with another NBA team, the Nets own his Early Bird rights, meaning they could technically sign him to a deal for up to four years in the $25 million range. That gives the Nets an advantage if they decide they want to bring back Blatche.
The Nets are on the playoff fringes right now, and any added depth would be a welcome sight for a team risking losing a lottery pick to the Atlanta Hawks this offseason. But they’d either have to believe that Blatche has cleaned up his act, or be willing to risk the idea that he hasn’t, and that may not be worth the price with the Nets already looking to cut costs.