Andray Blatche Signs Extension With Wizards
Blatche had been signed through 2011-12, which makes the timing of the extension quite surprising. Blatche, a second-round pick straight from high school in 2005, played sparingly on his initial two-year contract. But in those spare minutes and on the practice floor, the Wizards liked what they saw and sewed Blatche up with a five-year, $15 million deal in 2007.
In the meantime, Blatche showed enough to take the starting job last spring when the Wizards shipped out Antawn Jamison as a part of a massive rebuilding project. As a starter last season, Blatche averaged more than 20 points and eight rebounds a game on 48 percent shooting, solid work for a still improving player.
Now, with drool-worthy rookie John Wall in place at the point guard position and a budding JaVale McGee at center, the Wizards have locked up another piece of their core for the long climb up. Lee notes that the extension is structured weirdly, and takes advantage of the Wizards' cap space.
The collective bargaining agreement allows team under the cap to restructure existing contracts upward, with available cap space and maximum salary rules as the limitations. The Wizards had roughly $6 million in cap space, and boosted Blatche's 2010-11 and 2011-12 salary in order to get the forward more cash without strapping the team in 2012-13 and beyond. That's a smart play, and could allow the Wizards more flexibility than they would have otherwise had in the 2012 and 2013 offseasons. (Less important but still interesting is that this clause is rarely if ever used. Someone alert Michael Heisley.)
Why would Blatche, potentially on the verge of breaking out in a major way, sign this deal? The next collective bargaining agreement promises to slash salaries; it's quite possible that under the new system a $6-7 million salary would have been the absolute top of Blatche's range. Players also rarely say no to guaranteed salary when the opportunity for free agency is relatively far away (it only takes one injury), and adding more salary now, before the potential 2011 NBA lockout, was surely also a sweetener for Blatche (and his agent).