Magic fans have long forgotten (or not forgotten, but used as a lesson for future international prospects . . . like Dario Saric, perhaps) Fran Vazquez, Orlando’s first round pick in 2005.
It seems like every few years when Vazquez becomes a free agent, rumors begin circulating that he will finally make the leap over to the NBA. As Vazquez creeps into his 30s, that chance seems finally to have shut. Vazquez will sign a three year deal with Unicaja Malaga, his team for the past two seasons.
And yes, the Magic were somehow involved in the free agent negotiations, used as bargaining leverage to help Vazquez get a more favorable deal.
As Adam Papageorgiou of Orlando Magic Greek wrote, Vazquez’s agent claimed he had discussions with the Magic a few months ago as his client prepared to hit free agency. As had been done before, that was a negotiating tactic to increase the price:
Fran’s clever agent Jose Cobelo mentioned that he had spoken with the Magic front office a few months ago and claimed that larger Spanish teams like Real Madrid were seeking the center’s services for next season. This wasn’t coincidental timing with Vazquez being asked by Malaga to take less money as the team is going through a shaky financial period. Fran himself almost sabotaged his agent’s work by continuing to say he was eager to re-sign with Malaga.
Vazquez will probably never wear a Magic uniform. He averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in Euroleague last year. He turned 31 years old in May.
So while Rob Hennigan and his staff may continue to keep tabs on him on the off chance he decides to jump to the States, it seems like this draft mistake will remain out of the team’s reach.
Let that be a lesson the organization had to learn about the importance of doing your research on these kind of prospects and making a decision accordingly.
It will be interesting to see what the Magic do with the 12th pick in the Draft if Croatia’s Dario Saric is available. Saric has reportedly signed a two-year deal with Anadalou Efes in Turkey and may not be able to come to the NBA for at least another year.