ESPN's Marc Stein tweeted Saturday that the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have expressed "exploratory interest" in the 6-foot-11 free agent Andray Blatche, whom the Washington Wizards recently amnestied. Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reported that Miami had interest in acquiring Darko Milicic three weeks ago. Milicic was also amnestied this year.
Apparently, Pat Riley is looking for whatever help he can find to bolster his power rotation. Riley has struggled to find more than stopgap solutions at center since the 2010-11 season, though. He drafted Dexter Pittman and signed Erick Dampier, Eddy Curry and Ronny Turiaf, but none of them played meaningful minutes late in the season. Chris Bosh is Miami's best center, but the Heat will need big men who can soak up minutes in the regular season to keep Bosh fresh for the playoffs. The Heat already have Joel Anthony, but still probably need one more player.
On paper, Blatche looks like a good fit. He's long and athletic, can hit a jumper and can rebound well. He'll turn 26 later this month, and averaged 17 points and eight rebounds just two seasons ago. But on the court, Blatche doesn't always put in a lot of effort; he sometimes settles for 20-footers and jogs back on defense. The Washington Post even reported that Blatche ate nachos in the locker room before a game against the Heat, looking more like someone getting ready to watch an NBA game than play in one.
The Heat are known to look for players who fit the team culture. Some even speculate that Miami passed on the chance to draft Perry Jones III in the 2012 NBA Draft because of his nonchalant attitude. The Heat's recent draft picks -- Norris Cole and Pittman -- went to college for four years. However, sometimes the right team can make a player work hard. Boris Diaw was overweight and disinterested with the Charlotte Bobcats last year, but played pretty well for the San Antonio Spurs. Additionally, it's a safe bet that Rashard Lewis will play with more intensity for Miami than he had for the Wizards.
Along with Blatche, another one of the former Washington "knuckleheads" -- JaVale McGee -- had his moments as a Denver Nugget and since parlayed that nice play into a contract that will pay him well. George Karl and Andre Miller helped get McGee play smarter, and the team sent him to work with Hakeem Olajuwon in the summer. Perhaps Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, Alonzo Mourning, Bob McAdoo and Miami's veterans can do the same for Blatche and help him hone his talents.
At the very least, this experiment would have far more promise than the Eddy Curry tryout. Although Curry lost a lot of weight, he was still too slow-footed to play effectively for Miami. Blatche is a talented basketball player and could help the Heat if he comes on with his mind in the right place.