Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche undoubtedly exceeded all expectations in his two years with the team. The Nets decided to give Blatche an opportunity in 2012 by signing him to one-year deal and then re-signing him in 2013. This occurred after the Washington Wizards amnestied Blatche and his lucrative contract due to issues on and off the court.
Brooklyn took advantage of a low-risk situation in terms of money and were rewarded by his surprising play. Blatche became one the best backup centers in the NBA and played a key role on two playoff teams. He averaged 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game during the 2012-13 season, and 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game during the 2013-14 campaign.
However, it would be in both sides’ best interests to move on this offseason. With Blatche’s production and Brooklyn’s historically-high payroll, paying Blatche what he truly deserves would be extremely difficult. While Blatche has been important, the Nets have other holes to fill on their roster that should take precedence. Re-signing Alan Anderson, who played a pivotal role for the Nets due to his ability to play stifling defense and consistently hit open shots, is a must for Brooklyn this summer.
With trade rumors swirling around Marcus Thornton, who was very inconsistent on offense and awful on defense in his stint with Brooklyn, Anderson would provide stability off the bench. In addition, while second-round pick Markel Brown has upside, trusting him with major minutes off the bench right away could be disastrous. Thus re-signing Anderson, who also deserves a raise in salary from the veteran’s minimum, is more essential than re-signing Blatche.
Also, the emergence of center Mason Plumlee in his rookie season makes it difficult to argue for bringing back Blatche. Right now, Plumlee is a better option to back up Brook Lopez and play substantial minutes in case Lopez injures himself again. Plumlee was excellent as a rim-protector and could also stretch the floor on defense with his superior athletic capabilities.
While Blatche made improvements on the defensive end, Plumlee already is a much better defender and rebounder. Not to mention, at a younger age Plumlee has more room to grow as he becomes more accustomed to playing in the NBA. While Blatche possesses a more polished offensive game with the ability to hit open mid-range jumpers, Plumlee can finish extremely well in the paint.
With the hiring of experienced head coach Lionel Hollins, who coached Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph with the Memphis Grizzlies, Plumlee has the potential to develop a more well-rounded and balanced offensive game and therefore become a respectable starting center in the NBA.
Overall, Blatche was great for the Nets in his two seasons; however, you never knew which side of him would show up each night. Some games Blatche could not miss and other games he was a flat-out liability. While it was very entertaining to watch his ball-fakes and spin-moves, the Nets would be wise to thank Blatche for his services and part ways with him this summer.
With Kevin Garnett returning and Plumlee blossoming into a very solid player, it is hard to envision Brooklyn, stuck in a harsh financial situation, offering Blatche a contract paying him what he has earned over the past two seasons. Brooklyn has reportedly not reached out to Blatche, and the front office is making the right decision in not doing so.
Jordan Berkowitz is a Brooklyn Nets writer for RantSports.com