- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The news came as little surprise to fans in Washington, or to Andray Blatche. The Wizards made it official Tuesday, when they released the unpopular and underperforming power forward by using the amnesty provision in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.

“Andray did not figure into our future plans, and using the amnesty provision is a mutually beneficial opportunity for us to part ways,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement.

Blatche was notified of the team’s decision shortly before the statement was released.

“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to go to another team and show what I can do,” Blatche said through his spokeswoman. He also admitted that the booing he received at Verizon Center had begun to weigh on him.

“They weren’t booing my play. It’s like they were booing me for just existing.”

Last season was the most difficult of Blatche’s seven-year career with the Wizards. Plagued by injuries to his shoulder and his calf, Blatche played in just 26 games and was deactivated at the end of the season to work on conditioning. He averaged just 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 2011-12 and leaves Washington averaging 9.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in 409 games.

By using the amnesty clause to waive Blatche, the Wizards will have to pay him $23 million — money that will not count against the salary cap. Ironically, had Blatche not received a $35 million contract extension in 2010, he would have been a free agent this season.

The departure of Blatche marks an end of the so-called “knucklehead era” for the Wizards, which was defined by the many of the on-and-off court antics of Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale NcGee, who were dealt at the trading deadline.

The arrival of Brazilian center Nene from Denver ushered in an era of maturity and professionalism, and the offseason trade for Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor also gives the Wizards the opportunity to remake the roster with a better mix of veterans and young players. Washington also hopes to add offensive punch with shooting guard Bradley Beal, who it drafted with the third overall pick in last month’s draft.

“We will be able to continue to develop our core group of young players, blend in the solid veterans we have acquired and maintain financial flexibility while Andray will be able to get a fresh start with another team. We wish him the best moving forward,” the statement said.

The end of his tenure in Washington marks an opportunity for Blatche, 25, to revive his career. Blatche has lost weight and continues to improve his conditioning, and he’s confident another chance will come along. His plans are to put his time with the Wizards behind him and move on.

“I’m just going to keep working out with John [Lucas in Houston] and wait until another team picks me up,” Blatche said through his spokeswoman. “My focus is on getting in shape, having a good summer and getting back.”

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