I know that the name of Fran Vazquez incites the feeling of frustration or what not to hometown fans, given that he famously jilted the Orlando Magic in 2005 after being selected #11 in the NBA Draft. But as Ben pointed out several months back, the reports coming from Europe have been encouraging for the young Spaniard.
With the stark reality that Marcin Gortat is probably as good as gone in the next few months, general manager Otis Smith may be forced to look for a replacement to the Polish Hammer via free agency, trade, etc. Although it's highly unlikely he comes over from Spain, perhaps Vazquez could theoretically be that guy to replace Gortat.
It's important to state that there are obstacles in the way of Vazquez coming over, mainly his desire to play with Orlando. The $7 million buyout in Fran's contract with Regal FC Barcelona expires after the 2008-2009 season, so if there's a prime opportunity to see if he wants to play for the Magic, now appears to be the time.
Here's what DraftExpress had to say about Vazquez while previewing the Euroleague Final Four, which took place at the beginning of May.
Fran Vazquez – Vasquez is, as we discussed on depth a few months back, a high-level NBA rotation player if he ever decides that he wants to become one. Orlando owns his rights and could be in need of a good backup 4/5 if Marcin Gortat bolts this summer, but it’s unknown at this point how realistic an option that is from Vasquez’s end. Here in Berlin, Vasquez will need to be at his best defensively, cleaning up the glass and running the floor against CSKA's slower big men.
Also, I was able to chat it up with Christophe Rey of Ball in Europe about Fran.
Vazquez is having an important role with his current team Regal FC Barcelona as vertical inside player. Having an above average leaping ability for European standards, he is used as a back-up in Barcelona's rotation behind the physical Daniel Santiago and jump shooting David Andersen. Vazquez is offensively scoring mostly on jump shots around the key or by above the rim plays on pick and roll situations.
Vazquez in comparison to Gortat is less large than Gortat, but can probably run the court faster than he does.
The problem is though that Vazquez did not really seem too interested in joining the NBA after he got drafted. I don't know if that has changed in his mind these days. At least, I did not really hear reports that he considers that option but I may be wrong on this point.
He can be a role player, he is athletic enough to play the NBA. However, he is not the largest and biggest guy in the world which could hurt him on defense against NBA centers. It would be a more complimentary backup for Howard than Gortat has been.
After the jump, a highlight video of Vazquez this past season in Europe, as well as some statistics and conclusions.
One thing is clear, Fran Vazquez can play in the NBA and help a team, specifically the Magic. The question is, again, whether or not Vazquez wants to come overseas to play basketball. Various indications have shown that he does and that he does not. The only person that truly knows is Vazquez, obviously. Another question is, what would Vazquez's salary be if he were to make the jump to the NBA? Looking at the 2005-2006 rookie salary scale, Fran was in line to make roughly $1.5 million in his first year. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the NBA, that would be the money Vazquez would be netting from Orlando. [ed note: More than three seasons passed, so the rookie scale wouldn't take into effect.] Unfortunately, the Magic will be pushing it financially trying to re-sign Hedo Turkoglu, so things get tricky. Even if Vazquez were to want to play for the team next season, he may not be able to.
Clearly the level of competition is different in Europe than it is here, but it's still worth taking a look at the numbers to get a rough idea of Vazquez's production.
|Minutes Per Game||22.0||19.2|
|PER||32.3 (1st)||26.1 (4th)|
|TS%||74.0% (1st)||68.0% (12th)|
|eFG%||72.0% (1st)||67.0% (7th)|
|rebounds per 40 minutes/pace adjusted||12.6 (4th)||9.9 (20th)|
|blocks per 40 minutes/pace adjusted||3.3 (1st)||3.7 (1st)|