It is the same refrain Magic fans have heard every summer since 2005. The promise never fulfilled. The disgrace never lived down.
Fran Vazquez and the Orlando Magic.
It has been a never-ending yin and yang of will he or won't he. Mostly -- entirely -- it has been won't he. Orlando has waited patiently and watched Vazquez develop into a solid player while gaining nothing for him. With Dwight Howard blossoming into a superstar player, it hardly seemed to matter.
Now that Howard is leaving Orlando, attaining the services of the 29-year-old Spaniard could be as important as ever.
Fortuitously for the Magic, Vazquez has a window he can jump through to trek across the Atlantic and give the NBA a try.
Adam Papageorgiou of Orlando Magic Greek has been following Vazquez overseas and is generally our go-to guy for international basketball. He found that Vazquez may be entering a bit of a contract dispute with European power Regal Barcelona, making this, perhaps, the time for a move to a new team.
According to TuBasket.com, Vazquez earned 1.9 million Euro last season (approximately $2.3 million) and received a low offer of 1.2 million Euro (approximately $1.5 million). TuBasket reported Vazquez was looking for a two-year deal. With the chance to get out of his deal, much like he had last year before the lockout gave him cold feet, Vazquez could make the jump to the NBA at long last.
There are other complications. As Andrew Melnick of ESPNFlorida reported in April, Vazquez may be using the threat of the NBA to get a better offer in Spain. Sport.es reports Vazquez has drawn interest from Real Madrid and Unicaja Malaga in the Spanish ACB league. BasketballInside.com reports Barcelona does not appear willing to exercise its right to match any offers Vazquez might receive. This would enable him to more easily move within the ACB league.
As Larry Coon notes in his Salary Cap FAQ, however, Orlando would not be bound to the rookie scale for the 11th pick in the Draft when they sign him. Because it has been more than three years since the Magic drafted Vazquez, they could use either the rookie scale from 2005 or their available cap space and exceptions to sign him. Money would not be the issue if Orlando wants Vazquez. They certainly have mini-exceptions in the $2-3 million range to outbid any team from Spain.
This is something that has gained steam on both sides of the pond as Papageorgiou notes. Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported in early July that the Magic and Vazquez were undecided on whether he would come over (but they were talking about it) and SportYou reported Monday that Vazquez and the Magic were in discussions that would bring Vazquez to the United States. SportYou even went so far as to say the Gustavo Ayon acquisition was made to help Vazquez transition to the U.S. and the NBA (I am finding that a bit more far fetched though).
It is safe to say that things are as serious as they have ever been when it comes to putting Vazquez in a Magic uniform.
So why is this important now? For the past seven years Magic fans have waited with hardly bated breath for Vazquez to come over -- when I mentioned I was doing this post, someone on Twitter even asked me who Vazquez was. He is that forgotten in the Magic memory.
Dwight Howard is the answer, of course.
The Magic may be closing up trade talks to find their coach, but to be sure the trade discussions will quickly pick up again even with the Nets out of the deal.
Orlando was not thrilled with the offers the team received and that is one of the reasons things slowed down. This means when the next round of negotiations begin, the Magic are likely going to need to take a different tact. Something that might help that is finding security at center to open up different kinds of offers.
When the rumor surfaced that the Rockets, Lakers and Magic were discussing a deal that would send Howard to the Lakers and Andrew Bynum to the Rockets leaving the Magic without a center. The theory might have been that the Magic already had their center waiting in the wings. If Vazquez is coming over, it may open up new trade avenues for the Magic because the team has different needs.
It is an avenue worth pondering if these reports are true and Vazquez is close to coming over.
Last season for Barcelona, Vazquez averaged averaged 4.4 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game in 13.6 minutes per game during Euroleague play. In ACB play, Vazquez added 5.9 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game in 16 minutes per game. The stats are not gaudy, but as the links above show, Vazquez had issues with his coach for Barcelona and Barcelona wants to move on.
Vazquez's number are not gaudy. But he is extremely talented and will play within himself. His style of play is reminiscent of Marcin Gortat and he has all the length and athleticism Gortat has (although maybe not the defensive instincts). Vazquez is 29 and is who he is. But there are plenty of people who believe he could be valuable on an NBA team.
He will not replace Dwight Howard, but from his limited minutes, it seems clear he could come in and contribute potentially as a starter. If Vazquez came over, it may lessen the blow so to speak.
If these reports are to be believed, the wait might be ending when it comes to Vazquez. And just in the nick of time...
Major hat tip and thanks to Adam Papageorgiou of Orlando Magic Greek for keeping tabs on all this. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @adamosgp and over at Orlando Magic Greek! We are sorry Greece did not make the Olympics, buddy.