Andray Blatche provided the first hint of his travel plans Thursday night posted a map of the Philippines on Instagram with the message, "Mite b taking a early trip there this weekend who comin with me lol."
Then Friday, after reports of his departure circulated, he confirmed that he's on his way to Philippines.
Meaning, "What's up, Manila?" He's scheduled to arrive early Sunday morning, Manila time, late Saturday night, New York time.
The Nets back-up center, a Syracuse native, has never been to the Philippines and some in the country are miffed that he hasn't ... and called for him to visit before his citizenship gets final approval.
Another possibility, writes Alex Raskin, is that the trip may involve Blatche taking his citizenship oath with the country's bureau of immigration.
The naturalization bill has passed both the House and Senate and is now on the President's desk. But Benigno Aquino III needs to sign the bill into law before June 30, FIBA's roster deadline. If he does, Blatche will be permitted to play for the Philippine national team at the FIBA World Cup which starts August 30. The head of the Philippine Basketball Association has said the team is likely to hold its training camp in Miami, Blatche's off-season home. Aquino can also simply let the bill become law if he doesn't sign it within 30 days of its Senate passage on May 26. But if he chooses that option, Filipino authorities would be hard-pressed to get paperwork done in time for the June 30 deadline.
Meanwhile, there's the question of whether Nets fans will care about Blatche come August 30. He has said he will opt out of his player option and test free agency. The Nets have his Early Bird rights and can sign him for up to four years and $25 million, but that kind of deal is highly unlikely ... from anyone. The Nets could also sign-and-trade him as part of a one-for-one deal or part of a larger package, as they did with DeShawn Stevenson in the Joe Johnson trade and with Keith Bogans in the big Boston trade. Blatche will be paid at least $9.5 million next season no matter what because he has one more year of amnesty payments from the Wizards.
What are the chances of Blatche's return? Mike Mazzeo asks, "But is it smart for the Nets to bring him back? Is Blatche worth the trouble he sometimes puts on himself? With an already decent stockpile of big men that could potentially include Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the Nets may ultimately decide to move on."
- Andray Blatche: The Philippines' Net Gain - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Offseason breakdown: Andray Blatche - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Blatche heads to Manila, greets Filipinos 'Kamusta' - ABS-CBN News
Andray Blatche to arrive Sunday, may watch PBA - Inquirer