Finally, the Washington Wizards are free to become a good team.
No more knuckleheads. No locker room problems and killer contracts of useless players sucking the life out of the team. They're all gone.
Andray Blatche was the latest to depart on Tuesday. While it's painful to think a player whose immature attitude and poor work ethic undermined a potentially good career was paid $23 million to go away, at least he's gone.
"Andray did not figure into our future plans, and using the amnesty provision is a mutually beneficial opportunity for us to part ways," said Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld in a statement. "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."
That's the smartest thing Grunfeld has ever said.
The Wizards did the right thing in ridding themselves of Blatche rather than prolonging the pain by trying to trade him for some practice jerseys and new scoreboard buzzer. Nobody wants Blatche at that money. He'll surely find a suitor at a discount price, but that's what he is now -- damaged goods. Blatche will become a journeyman, though it's not a bad living after just banking $23 million.
The Wizards have rid themselves of Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Blatche. So much potential wasted, but at least those anchors were cut loose.
Washington gets a new start. It's now all on John Wall and Bradley Beal. They can grow without being poisoned by underperforming teammates. If the Wizards stink again this coming season, at least it will be tolerable knowing they're really trying.
Blatche was typical of players you know who don't give 100 percent. That Blatche was named team captain last season was laughable. That he was told to go home late in the season after not giving any effort really shows what a mistake it was to think he could be a leader. That mistake cost Flip Saunders, a good coach who went 51-130 with a locker room of basketball's Bad News Bears.
Washington might make the playoffs this season simply because everyone will play hard under coach Randy Wittman, who's the perfect choice for this roster. They're not a serious contender yet, but at least there's now hope in a couple years of becoming one. Before ridding themselves of problem players, it was just an endless cycle of awful seasons. Eliminating troublesome players breaks the chain of pain.
Blatche gets paid and is free to move on. Fans are happy. The team is, too. That's a win-win-win for a team with too few victories over recent seasons.