The Case For Tony Battie

When Tony Battie arrived in New Jersey (along with Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston) as part of the deal that sent Vince Carter to Orlando on draft day, the Nets’ roster reached 15, the maximum number of players that a NBA team can have under contract.

Since then, Nets fans itching to see some moves this offseason have been clamoring for someone to get their contract bought-out, and Tony Battie’s name has been mentioned the most, both by fans and in rumors.

At first glance, it kind of makes sense.  We have 4 power forwards with Yi and Sean Williams (if he can keep his head on straight) expecting the most minutes, and then you have to take Eduardo Najera into consideration as he continues to work his way back from injury.

However, if you examine the situation closer, the reasons to keep Tony Battie on the roster just jump out at you.  First, who are you going to replace him with?  Early in the summer, names like Leon Powe and Ike Diogu being thrown around, but they both signed.  The best FA PFs you got out there (you would assume that the Nets would be signing another PF to replace Battie) are the Collins twins and Stromile Swift, the Nets already had the (dis?)pleasure of having two of those guys on their roster.  I think Battie can out perform any of those guys.  Also, if you buy out Battie’s expiring contract, you are probably going to replace it with a multi-year contract, and that hurts the Nets during next year’s free agency period (we are going to go ahead and assume Battie will only be here one year).

Tony Battie’s flexibility is another reason why he should be kept on the roster.  Battie has the ability to playing either the 4 or the 5, and he gives coach Lawrence Frank plenty of options.  As Zachary McCann of OrlandoMagicDaily told me just days after the trade:

Battie can play the 4 or 5… Three seasons ago Battie started at power forward alongside Dwight Howard.

Do you guys trust Josh Boone as Brook’s only backup?  I sure don’t.  Having Tony Battie on the roster serves as a nice security blanket in case either Brook Lopez or Josh Boone get injured.

The final, and in my opinion, most important reason Tony Battie needs to stay a Net is that he brings a maturity level to a team that is suddenly lacking in that department.  Don’t misinterpret what I am saying here, the Nets aren’t a bunch of wild kids running around and getting themselves in trouble (well, everyone except Sean Williams), but this is in fact a young team.  Tony Battie, the man who Dwight Howard  said was “like a big brother to him,” could help these young guys in many ways.  He can show them the ins and outs of NBA life and show them how to be professional.  There are much worse people that you can have taking up a roster spot.  Hell, maybe he can even get Sean Williams to straighten his act.

On a related note, the Nets must know that Courtney Lee looks up to Tony Battie and he is close with him.  The Nets also know that Courtney is still struggling to deal with being traded by the Orlando Magic.  So, why on earth would the Nets buy out Tony Battie’s contract and give Courtney Lee another reason to be upset and unfocused.

All in all, Tony Battie provides a number of positives if he is kept on the roster.  Even if most of these positives won’t effect what happens on the court, I see Battie having an important role on this Nets team…that is, if his contract isn’t bought out.

Published by Sebastian Pruiti