The chance is here for DeJuan Blair to rebound. Yes, the Wizards will need the backup center to do that exact task anyway, but this is about his career which took a major detour last season.
Blair appeared in a career-low 29 games in his first season in Washington. His previous low was 61 with the San Antonio Spurs in 2012-13. Two seasons ago, Blair was key in the Dallas Mavericks' run when they pushed the eventual NBA champion Spurs to seven games in the first round. He never even made an appearance for the Wizards when they advanced to the East semifinals last season.
"I have a bigger opportunity to get on the court and show what I can do," said Blair, who was behind the now departed Kevin Seraphin in the rotation behind starting center Marcin Gortat and relegated to mop-up duty in blowouts. "I think I can help this team out a lot. It’s a pretty big year for me, where I am in my career, myself, for my dignity, for everything. So I won’t go crazy.
"It felt like I wasn’t here," Blair said about last season. "It felt like I was just going with the motion. It was something that I got over. It was a phase in my life I want to never happen again."
The reasons appear to be simple. Coach Randy Wittman didn't think he was in good enough condition and the Wizards transitioned to smaller, more fluid lineups as they got closer to the postseason. Because of his three-point shooting, Drew Gooden ate up minutes among the bigs, too.
"I worked hard this summer and tried to come back in the best shape I could, just trying to get out on that court no matter what I’m doing," said Blair, who added that he lost 30 pounds. "It’s definitely motivation. Seeing my team in the playoffs last year and not being able to do anything really (was) a big downfall for me so I dedicated my summer.
"I trained in Florida so I was out on the beach a lot doing a lot of things, hot yoga, a lot of things I’m not used to doing. I’m just trying to take care of my body more."
During the exit interviews, Wittman made it clear to Blair that he was too distracted and not ready to contribute. Blair was granted leave for a death last season as well.
"Not worry about a lot of negative things. Try to think positive. That’s my whole M.O.," Blair said. "Just be more professional. Don’t worry about a lot of things. I’m a worry wart. I worry about a lot of things on and off the court so I just got to stick to what I know and what I can handle and let everything else happen.
"I’m ready mentally and physically. I’ve been waiting a long time."
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