A boy becomes a man: The Andray Blatche story
By Lee Friedman
The most important news this week in Wizardsville (we’ve got a long way to go before we hit Nation status, people) wasn’t the kick-off of training camp, or the constant speculation on the body language of Gilbert Arenas (I think The Post is one step away from hiring one of the body language experts Star and US Weekly use to tell us if Jen is secretly still in love with Brad by the way she pumps gas). It was the contract extension for Andray Blatche. I’ve had a running debate with some friends who are Wizards fans about whether this is a good move.
The arguments against it are solid: he’s a head case; we shouldn’t be signing people to long-term deals in the midst of a rebuilding process; he won’t average 22 and 8 with Arenas and Wall taking shots; when Steve Buckhantz says that he threw up an “ill-advised shot” he takes it as a compliment, etc.
My response is this: If the Wizards are trying to lock up their young talent to reasonable long-term contracts, this is the kind of deal you make. I’m not naïve, if Blatche is your best player, you stink; if he is your second best player, you are just bad; but if he is your third best player, you could be decent or even good. If he is your fourth or fifth best player you could be a championship contending team. Now, I don’t think he’ll average 22 and 8 per game this year like he did at the end of last year. Arenas and Wall will take away a lot of shots. But it’s reasonable to expect he’d average 18 and 8. He also won’t get double-teams thrown at him the way he did at the end of last year.
In the age of the salary-cap, it isn’t just about what you do on the court, it’s about how much you are paid for it. Blatche’s deal is basically a $7M per year contract (with it being closer to $8M in the final years) for five years. The list below is of the forwards who averaged 16 to 19 ppg and 7 to 9 rpg game last year, and their 2010-2011 salaries.
- Al Jefferson-$13M
- Antawn Jamison-$13M
- LaMarcus Aldridge-$10M
- Luis Scola-$7.7M (beginning next season at the age of 31 he will make the following yearly $8.5M, 9.4M, 10.2M, 11M)
It looks like we got some value for our investment (btw Blatche is younger than each of the players above).After this season Blatche would have been an unrestricted free agent and if he averaged even a 16 and 8 he would be expecting something in the range listed above (if you don’t believe me, just ask Amir Johnson, who signed a 5 year/$34M contract this off-season despite averaging a Darko Milicic-like 6 ppg and 4 rpg last year on a bad team).
Any contract longer then a one-year deal is a calculated risk, but I think this is a good investment. Blatche has said that he wants to be a Wizard and help build this team. The Wizards need players who want to be here and build a contending team.
Lastly, a lot of folks have gotten on Blatche about his bad attitude and childish behavior in the past (and rightfully so). But Blatche negotiated this contract himself without an agent, just hiring an attorney at an hourly rate to handle the language. That seems like a surprisingly mature move, so maybe Blatche is growing out of the moody undisciplined teenager in to an adult. Consider it his Bar Mitzvah.
Box Seats blogger
| September 30, 2010; 11:53 AM ET
Categories: Lee Friedman, Wizards | Tags: Andray Blatche, Wizards
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