Fran Vazquez, the Spanish power forward whom we drafted 11th overall in 2005, only to stare in disbelief when he announced he was not ready for the NBA, has decided he's ready to make the jump. From the Orlando Sentinel:
The Magic say that former lottery pick Fran Vazquez of Spain wants to play for the team next season, but the roadblock is the $7-million buy-out in Vazquez' contract with European powerhouse FC Barcelona. His deal doesn't expire until after the 2008-09 season. "The kid wants to come over and play for us," Magic General Manager Otis Smith told the Sentinel on Wednesday after shootaround before the club faced the Detorit Pistons in Game 3. "But . . .it's the buy-out. It's pretty substantial."
Smith indicated that Vazquez could try to reach a settlement with the club. NBA teams can only contribute a maximum of $500,000 toward a buy-out.
So, given our lack of depth at power forward -- remember that Tony Battie and Brian Cook are the only fours we have with guaranteed contracts for next season -- should we consider helping Fran with his buyout and letting him join the team? I'm not convinced. By all recent accounts, he's a horrible player. From Ian Whittell of ESPN.com (January 2008):
"He is a real enigma," says one European-based NBA scout. "You never know what you are going to get with him. I saw him in one Euroleague game this season score 10 points in the first half, all on dunks. If you did not know who he was, you would have been blown away by him.
"Then, the next time you see him, he might play five minutes and not score a point. The bottom line is, I don't think he's a real smart player."
In the 11-game Euroleague season, he is averaging 5.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 11 minutes, modest numbers given how dominant Barcelona (8-3) has been in many games.
More worryingly, in the domestic Spanish ACB League, Vazquez averages 5.2 points and 1.8 boards in 14 minutes. In Sunday's surprise 95-82 defeat at lowly Murcia, he had no points and one rebound in 5 minutes.
I went on-the-record in January as saying, "Let him sit at the end of Barcelona's bench. I don't care about him anymore. Can we move on, please?" and I haven't wavered from that opinion. Let Battie and Cook man the four-spot, or see about acquiring a four via free agency. We can probably get a proven NBA role-player, one more effective than Battie, anyway, and not have to worry about Vazquez's learning curve.
But what do you think? Is Vazquez worth taking a flyer on? Or should we look elsewhere?