SATURDAY, 11:34pm: Sources tell John Reid of The Times-Picayune that the Pelicans aren’t interested in signing Blatche (Twitter link), contradicting the earlier report.
FRIDAY, 4:57pm: The Pelicans and big man Andray Blatche have mutual interest in a deal next month, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Blatche reportedly intends to decline his nearly $1.438MM player option for next season with Brooklyn and become a free agent.
Blatche has revived his career the past two seasons with the Nets after the Wizards used the amnesty clause to waive him in 2012. The 27-year-old is still set to collect more than $8MM from Washington next season, but 2014/15 is the last year his Wizards contract was to have covered. The Andy Miller client signed with the Nets for the minimum salary in 2012 and used his Non-Bird rights with the team to ink a deal for slightly more this season, but it seems reasonable to suspect he’ll command more this summer.
The Nets have Blatche’s Early Bird rights this time around, enabling them to re-sign him to a much higher salary, likely around $6MM. New Orleans has about $54MM in commitments for next season, which doesn’t leave a significant amount of wiggle room under the cap, projected to come in at $63.2MM. It’d probably be enough to snag Blatche, though the Nets will likely have the power to submit a bid equal to more than half the amount of cap space the Pelicans could open up. Brooklyn has shown a willingness to spend as much as it’s allowed, and I’m not sure New Orleans would want to commit so much to a player who’s started just 15 regular season games the past two years.
Blatche has nonetheless proven a key reserve for the Nets, putting up 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game with an 18.8 PER this past season. His role shrank in the playoffs, as he saw just 14.3 MPG with the Nets, who went with a small-ball attack. The emergence of rookie Mason Plumlee also helped curb his playing time.