The Washington Wizards are leaning toward using the amnesty provision by Tuesday’s deadline to waive forward Andray Blatche, according to league sources.
The Wizards have not made a final decision on the move. Teams have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to decide whether they’ll use the amnesty provision for the upcoming season. If they don’t, they cannot use it again until next July. Teams are only allowed to use the provision once during the life of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Players that are waived under the provision can be claimed by teams under the salary cap for the upcoming season. The team that submits the highest bid gets the player. If Blatche were to be waived, teams would have to submit a minimum bid of $3.79 million for him — which represents the sum of the minimum salaries a player with Blatche’s experience would receive over the next three years, the remaining length of his contract.
Washington is still wavering on whether using the amnesty provision — and writing Blatche a check for the remaining $23 million on his contract. The Wizards have been trying to deal Blatche since the end of the season, but haven’t found any deals to their liking.
They could also keep Blatche on the roster but keep him away from the team while they continue to pursue trades or, perhaps, a contract buyout, in the same way the Indiana Pacers kept guard Jamaal Tinsley at arm’s length for a year before finally reaching a settlement on his contract.
Reached late Monday afternoon, team president Ernie Grunfeld was noncommittal, texting, “we shall see. We have 24 hours.”
Blatche, a second-round pick in 2005, has fallen out of favor in Washington after showing enough a couple of years following the trade of Antawn Jamison to Cleveland in 2010 ago to get a reworked contract worth $35 million. But he has struggled to stay in shape or provide leadership or impact ever since.
The Wizards have revamped their frontcourt in the last year, from drafting Jan Vesely with the sixth pick in the 2011 Draft to trading for power forward Emeka Okafor and small forward Trevor Ariza last month. Washington is also high on third-year forward Trevor Booker, with the center spot filled by Nene and emerging third-year man Kevin Seraphin. The acquisitions of Nene, Okafor and Ariza assured the Wizards would not be a major player in free agency this year or next, but Washington felt it was imperative to improve the roster around 2010 first-round pick John Wall and surround him with better and more professional players.
Blatche, who had a brief stint as team captain at the start of last season, only played in 26 games before he was shut down for the remainder of the year.
So far this week, Philadelphia (Elton Brand), Dallas (Brendan Haywood), Phoenix (Josh Childress), Houston (Luis Scola) and Minnesota (Darko Milicic) have used the amnesty provision, each using it to help create the cap room necessary to make additional moves. Seven teams used it last December.