Blatche officially re-signs with Nets, Livingston added as backup point man
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
While Nets fans anxiously await the arrival of the "Big Cs" -- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry -- to Downtown, Brooklyn general manager Billy King officially announced a pair of important signings Thursday morning.
Backup big man Andray Blatche, who rejuvenated his career with the Nets during their inaugural campaign in our fair borough, has been re-signed for the 2013-14 campaign. King also made the signing of backup point guard Shaun Livingston official, giving second-year man Tyshawn Taylor some serious competition for minutes behind starter Deron Williams.
“Andray was a vital member of our team last season,“ King said of the 6-foot-11 Blatche, who averaged 10.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and shot better than 51 percent from the field while appearing all 82 regular-season games. “He provides valuable front-court depth, and we look forward to his continued contribution.”
In his eight starts last season, Blatche put up 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest.
All this after Blatche arrived in Brooklyn following an at-best spotty seven-year run with the Washington Wizards during which he was fined by the league for participating in teammate Gilbert Arenas' infamous pre-game antics following an incident involving guns in the team's locker room.
Blatche was also benched for what the Wizards cited as a "lack of conditioning" in 2012, putting his value to other teams in great peril before his free agency last summer.
But none of that stopped King from taking a chance on Blatche, who thrived in his role as part of the Nets' ultra-productive "Bench Mob" en route to helping the team win 49 games and set a franchise record for road victories (24) in 2012-13.
“My decision was easy," Blatche said of returning to Brooklyn during Thursday's media teleconference. "I felt comfortable with the whole organization. I’m looking forward to playing with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. We have a legitimate chance to win the championship and I want to be a part of that. I had a couple of good offers [from other teams], but this organization gave me a chance when nobody else did.”
King's Draft-day headline-stealing swap with Boston for the Celtics' two future Hall of Famers and Terry can't be officially announced until Friday, as per the league's free-agency/trade guidelines.
However, Blatche didn't hold back on his praise for Brooklyn's effort to pursue the organization's first-ever NBA title by acquiring the trio this summer.
With Garnett, All-Star Brook Lopez, Blatche, rebounding machine Reggie Evans and first-round pick Mason Plumlee in the mix, the Nets now boast one of the league's most impressive collection of big men.
“We got a great leader in Kevin Garnett, a Hall of Famer, to follow behind," gushed Blatche. "We’ve made some big moves to make this team better. Our frontline is pretty good. We’ve got the players, we just have to work together to get better.”
When asked if he ever seriously considered leaving the Nets, Blatche again cited King's signing of him when he was viewed as a virtual untouchable in the NBA community.
“They picked me up when I was down and out," he noted. "I wanted to show my loyalty back.”
Livingston, an eight-year veteran, split time between Washington and Cleveland last season, averaging 6.3 points and 3.3 assists. He and Taylor, who has played extremely well during the Nets' Summer League participation in Orlando, Fla., this week, will try to fill the hole vacated by former backup point man C.J. Watson, who moved on to Indiana via free agency.
“Shaun’s abilities give our roster added versatility in the backcourt,” said King. “His basketball acumen and the way he plays the game are a great fit for this team."