The Heat are eyeing Andray Blatche, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The 28-year-old big man is committed to China’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers through the end of their season, a stumbling block considering that the Heat are in need of an inside player immediately, as Stein points out (on Twitter). Josh McRoberts is expected to miss the rest of the season and Chris Bosh is out indefinitely, but the regular season for the Flying Tigers doesn’t end until February 1st, and Blatche could be stuck in China until mid-March if Xinjiang makes the CBA finals as the team did last season.
Miami has been hesitant to sign Blatche in the past because of his maturity level and his behavior, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote over the summer. Blatche was absent from the Nets for what the team called personal reasons over a four-game stretch a year ago, but the break was reportedly a product of then-Nets coach Jason Kidd having essentially suspended him because of what Kidd saw as a lack of conditioning and preparation. Still, Miami wasn’t definitively ruling out the Andy Miller client as of August. The Raptors reportedly met with Blatche over the summer, and while another report indicated he would work out for the Clippers, Miller said that dispatch was false. Blatche was apparently telling many folks around the league that he would end up signing with the Pelicans, but he instead signed his Chinese deal in late September.
The Heat gained a disabled player exception worth precisely $2,652,500 because of the McRoberts injury, as Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald reported late Friday, so they can offer significantly more than the prorated minimum salary. However, that exception expires March 10th, a date that might precede the end of Blatche’s obligations in China. Miami is carrying 15 players, as our roster counts show, so the team would have to let someone go to create a spot for Blatche. He was productive off the bench for Brooklyn the past two seasons, averaging 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game last year, and he’s been an overall plus on the court, as I noted when I examined Blatche’s free agent stock in August.