It might be hard to believe in 2013, now that Andray Blatche has rounded off a bit, but when the Washington Wizards acquired the big forward in 2005 he was thought by some to possess some of the qualities Kevin Garnett came into the league with a decade before. Wizards fans badly wanted their 6-11 stringbean with touch to develop into the sort of all-around MVP-type that Garnett was, and rightfully prattled on about as much at message boards and the nascent NBA blog scene.
That … didn’t work out. And along the way, Blatche and Garnett developed one of the more one-sided feuds since Michael Jordan went after LaBradford Smith; with the caveat that Smith wasn’t that bad a guy, and it was Blatche that initiated things with Garnett in 2010 by cursing at KG and calling him “washed up.” Three years later, far from washed up, Garnett was the subject of an intense bidding war that eventually saw him agreed to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets on draft night.
Blatche, who was released by the Wizards last summer under the amnesty provision, caught on with the Nets for 2012-13. And on Thursday, flush with the knowledge that Brooklyn was moving forward with Garnett as its unquestioned leader, Blatche decided to … sign with the Nets?
No matter, Andray says. He and Garnett are “cool.” From the New York Daily News’ great Stefan Bondy:
“I can say Kevin, he surprised me. We were playing one game against each other, I believe it was last year, in Brooklyn. I was playing against him and he said, ‘Hey man, just keep your head up and keep fighting,’” Blatche said on Thursday, the same day he re-signed with the Nets on a two-year deal worth $2.8 million. “When he said that, it caught me off-guard, because me and him have our history, and I said, ‘All right, I guess we’re cool now.”
“I took that in, and ever since then I know everything is over with.”
I can say that Kevin surprised me as well. Because if you’ll recall, Blatche was a right jerk last season, and didn’t really need to be told to keep his head up while dissing his former Wizards squad from afar, safely tucked away on the bench of a winning team he wasn’t contributing much to. Washington paid for this guy to go away, and because his raw talent is so tantalizing, Brooklyn took a chance on Andray, and he responded by ripping a Washington team that showed patience with him and gave him a second contract. It wasn’t exactly the most noble of endeavors.
Garnett, as is his custom, won’t be talking much over the offseason, and certainly won’t be confirming Blatche’s report any time soon. KG has long been one of the NBA’s most fervent trash-talkers, but that particular part of his game doesn’t extend past the baseline, as he rarely sits down for interviews and doesn’t seek to document his every move in dealing with the press. Blatche has a different approach, to put it mildly.
The Nets remain an intriguing team. Rookie coach Jason Kidd has had some weird missteps in his first week helping run the team’s Summer League participant in Orlando, and we have no idea how he’ll shape out once he takes to the gig full-time in October. And as if the wing depth with Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson wasn’t enough, the team reportedly agreed to sign Andrei Kirilenko on Thursday, though AK47 only put that deal at 98 percent completed as Friday dawned.
And of course, all of this is taking place before the first practice that could see Blatche loafing, or the first defensive assignment that Brook Lopez misses. All while KG seethes and seethes. And all while owner Mikhail Prokhorov doles out $186 million for a team that might not make it out of the second round.
The Nets will be a fascinating team to watch in 2013-14. We’re cool with that.