The NBA season is heading towards the playoffs and many teams are still looking for help. Some teams out there are hoping veteran players like the Nets’ Joe Johnson and the Timberwolves’ Kevin Martin get bought out by their current teams. But another option people are looking at is the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). The CBA consists of some former NBA players along with some local Chinese players. And every now and then, there is an NBA player that revives his career overseas. One player that seems to be doing so is Michael Beasley. Currently he is averaging 32 points and 13 rebounds for the Shandong Lions. And even though he is halfway across the world, many NBA front offices have been keeping tabs on how he is doing. Their belief is that Beasley will continue to show his worth and they want to be the team to take a chance on him to make it work. And because of his talent, he will more than likely yet another shot to make the NBA. But one guy that many have seemingly forgotten about is currently playing overseas as well. His name is Aundray Blatche.
Plenty still remember when Blatche came into the NBA. He entered the NBA Draft out of high school in 2005 and fancied himself a first-round pick. But instead of being selected as early as he thought, he was selected with the 49th overall pick in the draft. His selection late meant that he was not assured to make the team and that there would be no big-time money given out to him to sign his rookie contract. He had to play himself onto the roster in Washington that season and he did. He seldom played his rookie season, but he eventually worked his way into being a player that the Wizards were looking to in their future. He was signed to an extension in 2010 that was going to pay him $35 million over the next five years. There was some thinking that he had turned the corner when he signed that deal. But unfortunately, he did not live up to that deal. The first season after signing the big deal, he did average 17 points per game and eight rebounds. But the following season (2011-2012), he suffered a setback in his progress, dropping down to nine points per game and getting in some trouble along with showing up out of shape. The Wizards decided to move on and they did so using the amnesty clause, cutting bait and going as far as to say Blatche was not in their future plans. Blatche would end up playing two seasons for the Brooklyn Nets at a discounted price (he was still getting his paychecks from the Washington Wizards per the amnesty agreement while in Brooklyn). Those two years reinvigorated his career. He was in double-figures despite not playing more than 25 minutes a night and it was thought that he would be highly sought after in the free agent market in 2014. But instead, Blatche went a different route.
Blatche declined his $1.43 million player option in Brooklyn and tested the free agent market. But that test ended up landing him in China. And from there, he has never come back. Blatche signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal in China that season and many thought he was going to come back to the NBA after that time. Instead of coming back, Blatche stayed away, deciding to sign a three-year deal with the Xinjiang Guanghui team in China worth $7.5 million. And the contract he signed included no opt out to come back to the NBA. He has decided that his second chapter will stay away from America (for now) and that he will try to make his career elsewhere at this point. So far he is averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds over in China this year and he seems to be happy there. Beasley is the guy many talk about taking a look at, but Blatche could probably help a team more than him (provided he is in shape). The versatile big man can handle the basketball, shoot and has vision on the court to hit the open man. As far as Beasley, he can score but there is not much else he can do besides that. Beasley has always been a liability in his career and that is something that has hindered him, along with the other off-the-court issues. Blatche may fit in great, but he does not want to fit into the NBA anymore. He instead chooses to go the path less traveled, and take his talents overseas to make a living.
Beasley may be the name many are talking about, but Blatche is the guy that could help teams more right now. But as the years go by, his name will fade more and more from the NBA. Plenty will remember him for his flounders in Washington with he and JaVale McGhee beside each other. But many will forget that he righted himself in Brooklyn only to leave the NBA and not return. Now we will only see Blatche from a distance as he continues his career in China. It would have been interesting to see what he could have been if he signed to play in the NBA again. But we will probably never get to see that one happen again.
Here are some highlights from Blatche in China last season: