HANG TIME, TEXAS – There have been plenty of different reasons for teams to use the amnesty provision in the new collective bargaining agreement.
By severing their ties with Elton Brand, the Sixers put themselves in a position where they could eventually land Andrew Bynum to anchor the middle of their lineuip.
The Rockets let go of Luis Scola in part to clear space for their failed pursuit of Dwight Howard, but also as a next step in an extreme makeover of their roster.
The Suns released Josh Childress so they would have cap space to acquire Scola, who they hope will be a solid, steady veteran presence as they head in a new direction in the post-Steve Nash era.
Then there are the Wizards, who cut big man Andray Blatche because, well, it was time.
The dictionary definition of amnesty is: a forgetting or overlooking any past offenses.
After seven seasons of unrealized potential, frustration and immaturity, it might be difficult for the Wizards to completely forget all that Blatche never became, but it was clearly worth the $23 million it cost to turn him loose and turn the page.
Though Blatche used his departure to apologize to Wizards fans, he told Donna Ditota of the Syracuse Post-Standard that he was “kind of upset” at the way his on-court tenure in Washington ended when he was shut down for the season with a “NWT — conditioning” listing in a box score.
“The GMs came to me and said, ‘You know, you’ve been hurt, you’re out of shape, so let’s say that you’re working to get your body back right, to get over your wounds,’¤” Blatche said. “And then when I saw on the paper, not a DNP, but a conditioning, I was kind of upset because that’s not what we talked about. But I ran with it because conditioning was part of it. But it was moreso the injuries that caused the conditioning problem.”
That all came after the 6-foot-11 Blatche admittedly allowed himself to get out of shape while waiting for the lockout to end last fall, taking a Jamaican vacation and hanging out with old friends in Syracuse. When an agreement was reached to start the season on Christmas Day, Blatche was out of shape. He tore his calf muscle. He injured his shoulder.
Now the free agent Blatche is living in Houston, working out under the tutelage of ex-player and coach John Lucas, the salvager of lost careers, and hoping to find a path back into the league. There has been talk of interest from a pair of high-end teams in Miami and San Antonio.
“My dream destination right now would be back on the court. For real. Just to get back on the court,” he said. “It’s something I love to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Heat or the Spurs or the D League. Whatever. As long as I’m back on the court playing ball.
“I mean, I love the game. I’m a fan of the game. I love playing basketball. That’s the only thing I’ve been doing since I’ve been little. Basketball is something that is very, very important to me.”
There’s no doubt that with career averages of 9.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, Blatche delivered what might have been expected from a player taken with the 49th pick in the 2005 draft. But that expectation level rose when he signed a three-year, $35-million contract extension in 2010 and became a symbol of a dysfunctional, perennially underachieving Wizards team along with the likes of Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young and JaVale McGee.
“He’s shown the commitment to get in much better shape and the humility that comes with being amnestied,” Lucas said. “Some team will give him a chance. But nobody will take your word for it. You have to prove yourself.”
After all, amnesty only goes so far.