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Wizards use amnesty clause on Blatche

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$23m left on contract removed from the cap

Andray Blatche's tumultuous career in Washington is over, as the Wizards designated the forward as their amnesty player on Tuesday.

Making use of a one-time provision in the collective bargaining agreement, the Wizards waived Blatche, thus removing the $23 million that he is owed over the next three seasons from the team's salary cap. Blatche, 25, becomes a free agent but will still be paid the full amount.

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

Selected out of high school by Washington with the 49th pick in the 2005 draft, Blatche was the team's longest-tenured player -- a title that now goes to John Wall -- but he was dismissed from the team to focus on conditioning in March. The Wizards had been attempting to trade him ever since, and he was not expected to be with the team this season. Washington recently acquired forward Emeka Okafor, adding to a full complement of frontcourt players that also includes Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely and Trevor Booker.

In seven seasons with the Wizards, Blatche averaged 9.9 points and 5.4 rebounds a game. A reserve in his first four years, he changed his number from 32 to 7 in 2009 to reflect his focus on basketball seven days a week. Promoted to starter following the departure of Antawn Jamison in February 2010, Blatche averaged 19.8 points and 8.5 rebounds after the 2010-11 All-Star break. He was rewarded with a three-year extension that restructured his contract for $35 million over five seasons, the first major contract handed out by Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld under new majority owner Ted Leonsis following the death of Abe Pollin in November 2009.

Blatche averaged career highs of 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in 2010-11. At his best, he had a rare set of offensive skills for his 6-foot-11 frame. But he was slow to mature, and he has been largely inconsistent the last two years, struggling to stay healthy and in shape, finding himself at odds with the Wizards coaching staff and getting regularly booed at home. He played only 26 games last season.

"We look forward to the next phase of his career," Blatche's agent, Andy Miller, said in a text message.

Blatche was also involved with a number of off-court incidents during his time in Washington. He was shot during a carjacking attempt prior to his rookie year, and he was arrested for attempting to solicit sex from an undercover police officer in 2007. He was also involved in an altercation with former teammate JaVale McGee in December 2010 which resulted in both players being suspended for one game.

"I want a culture and a locker room and a style of play that is hardworking and effort matters and coachability matters," Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said on draft night last month.

The sixth player to be waived under amnesty this summer, Blatche will become available to other NBA teams who are under the salary cap via auction and if bid for, will go to the team that submits the highest bid. Teams must submit a minimum bid of $3.79 million for him, matching the sum of the minimum salaries a player with Blatche's experience would receive over the next three years, the remaining length of his contract.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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