Monday, July 9, 2012
Fran Vazquez Refuses to Go Away
From our nightmares anyway. So close yet so far it's always appeared. He's almost worse than the Black Plague. I could swear we were done with this guy last year. The NBA Lockout didn't do us any favors in our feeble attempts at attaining closure with our 11th overall pick from the 2005 Draft. Even though Fran Vazquez's page of accolades are astounding by European standards, for most Magic fans he's a stiff who needs to stop terrorizing our minds every blue moon. Hennigan wants team-first individuals who want nothing more than to winning championships. Well there's no denying Fran's won a lot of hardware. So here we are, playing the wait and tease game once more. But we may finally have a ray of hope that Vazquez may finally come through for us. Just when we thought they were out, here's Spain's economic crisis, Barcelona's slight decline, and Fran's brain bringing us right back into the fray.
Fran reportedly made 1.9 million ($2.4 million) last season playing in Barcelona. Well Barca began low-balling Vazquez over the past few weeks with a 1.2 million Euros per season ($1.5 million) offer that he rejected. Only having one year of that proposal guaranteed didn't have him doing backflips either. Vazquez isn't a youngster anymore. The 29-year-old is peaking as a player and Fran's looking for security in still remaining with one of Europe's most successful basketball franchises. Vazquez would ideally want over $1.5 million per season and have 2 or more years guaranteed on whatever contract he signs. Whether that'll be in Spain or Orlando is the main question. Unicaja and Real Madrid are extremely interested in the center's services. But whatever proposal is offered can be matched by Barcelona. So what makes this a favorable scenario for Orlando? Fran hates Head Coach Xavi Pascual and in the past few hours it's been rumored that Barcelona won't exercise their right to match any offer thrown at Fran. Game-changer. The relationship is severely damaged and I'm sure Vazquez and his representatives would appreciate a clean slate across the Atlantic Ocean where our new coaching staff still hasn't been selected yet. Also, Barcelona is rebuilding their frontcourt to make a run at dominating Euroleague again. I'm still celebrating Olympiakos' improbable victory and European crown. We're not the only ones pressing the reset button.
Barcelona have signed rival Real Madrid's Ante Tomic, kept C.J. Wallace, and are looking at Nathan Jawai as well as another Real Madrid big body in Novica Velickovic. All while ridding themselves of Kosta Perovic and Boniface N'Dong. N'Dong may be brought back if Vazquez departs. Retaining Fran was the next goal it appeared for Barcelona until the shocking recent news of the estimated $3 million (possibly 3 million Euro) per year re-signing of Erazem Lorbek, spurning the Spurs. The deal will likely be the most money offered to any player in the ACB including Real Madrid's newly signed Rudy Fernandez. Lorbek was a near lock to be joining the San Antonio Spurs this summer with DeJuan Blair being on the trade block and Tim Duncan about ready to retire.
The Magic have a plethora of bigs. But would Rob Hennigan and company at least entertain the dangerously lanky 6'10" blocking beast with say a 3-year deal at $2 million per season? It's a more than reasonable price to bring over a man who has been talked about as if he was Big Foot or the Abominable Snow Man. Worse comes to worse, Vazquez could always be a vital trade asset to combine in ditching a bad contract. My optimistic whispers and tweets of there being an opening to acquire Fran were picked up this weekend by more acclaimed sports media men such as Ken Berger. The train is gathering momentum as 'initial discussions' have begun between the Magic and Spaniard. Here's another media source for proof that this is reality. With so much hatred and sadness surrounding the Dwight situation, Fran's arrival could end seven years of other teams around the league making fun of Otis Smith's and Dave Twardzik's ineptitude. I've always felt Vazquez's style of play was much better suited for the NBA than Europe. It took nearly a decade, but Fran may have matured to the point where he's FINALLY going to take a risk and make that leap onto the ultimate basketball stage. I think he's ready to experience a new culture, franchise, way of life, offensive style, defensive system, and just meet hundreds of new people. I'd beg and plead to be proven wrong or right either way about what Vazquez is capable of. Just bring the man over if a reasonable agreement presents itself, 'Henny'. It's time. We've certainly waited long enough.