Andray Blatche, shown here with a sprained shoulder during a Wizards-Bucks game last March. Photograph by Flickr user Keith Allison.
If you squint hard, you can start to see what the 2014 Wizards will look like.
They’re an athletic and aggressive playoff team (stop laughing and squint, dammit) in the mold of their franchise point guard. They generate plenty of turnovers, and they like to get out and run. Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton, and Jan Vesely have developed into excellent complementary players alongside John Wall and the first pick of the 2012 draft. Meanwhile, Andray Blatche is nowhere to be seen.
And how could he be? Blatche—the recipient of a regrettable contract extension from Ernie Grunfeld at the outset of this rebuilding project—doesn’t have a place on a team like this. His presence runs contrary to everything these new Wizards are trying to become. His game, while oftentimes effective, is lethargic.
Even when he’s trying to fit in with the team’s new culture (and he has tried), he winds up doing more harm than good. Like when, in an attempt to support his coach, Blatche let it slip out that the team has pretty much tuned him out. Thanks, Dray!
Or more recently, when Blatche was asked about his role coming off the bench in the team’s first win, he said, “It’s fine to me, as long as we winning. If we’re not winning, then that’s when everything change.”
That makes me feel better. Like a swimmer saying he’s ready to race, so long as he doesn’t have to get wet.
The Wizards are not going to win with Blatche in the starting lineup. They’re not going to win with him coming off of the bench. And, as we saw last night in Chicago, they’re not going to win with him unable to play due to a chronically ailing shoulder. This team just isn’t built to win yet.
I don’t expect Blatche to be happy with a reduced role. After all, he’s been here longer than anyone. He’s also the team’s second-highest-paid player, and self-described captain. He expects to play big minutes, and the less he does, the more of a malcontent he’ll become. That’s why Grunfeld needs to trade him now. Trade him for pennies on the dollar if you can get it. The team can hardly afford to lose one of the few scorers they have, but they’ll be better off in the long run.
Development and progress are the keys to this season. Andray Blatche is just going to get in the way.