Orlando Magic finally renounce rights to longtime draft pick

Among one of the many draft blunders for the Orlando Magic, the selection of Fran Vazquez stands out because he never made it to the team. In a weird salary cap quirk, the team held onto his draft rights . . . until now.
Fran Vazquez was the Orlando Magic's pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. But he never played for the Magic. At long last, the Magic have given up on the dream.
Fran Vazquez was the Orlando Magic's pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. But he never played for the Magic. At long last, the Magic have given up on the dream. / Pacific Press/GettyImages

Everyone is learning all kinds of new terms about the salary cap these days.

A lot of the criticism of the NBA's offseason so far has been the obsession with the second apron and everyone trying to figure out arcane cap rules. Considering the Orlando Magic had tons of cap room this offseason, everyone has had to learn what a cap hold is and other minutia of the salary cap.

NBA transactions are about accounting as much as they are about how a player fits on the floor. And there is a lot under the hood.

The Magic have had one extraneous cap minutia sitting on their books that nobody who follows such things has been able to explain. The Magic have retained the cap hold for a first-round pick who has never played a game for the Magic or in the NBA at all.

At long last, that responsibility is being released. At long last, the Magic are no longer connected to one of their biggest draft blunders.

Keith Smith of Spotrac reports the Magic have renounced their draft rights to the 11th overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft, Fran Vazquez.

Vazquez never played a game in the NBA and retired four years ago. Orlando no longer has his name on their books, it would appear.

Vazquez represents perhaps the low point of the Magic's draft history.

Vazquez was a 6-foot-10 forward projected to be a top-10 pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. However, on draft night, he took an unexpected dive. And the up-and-coming Magic, a year after they picked Dwight Howard and acquired Jameer Nelson on draft night, were eager to add a versatile big to their lineup.

It felt like a talent like Vazquez fell into their laps.

They brought Vazquez to Orlando, introduced him to the media and toured him around the practice facility at the RDV Sportsplex. It seemed like a home run as Vazquez returned to Spain to prepare for the season.

But he never returned to the United States and never signed a contract. Vazquez just sat on the Magic's books as the team kept about a $3 million placeholder on their books to represent his rookie salary.

Vazquez ultimately felt uncomfortable making the journey from Spain to the United States. Some people blamed his girlfriend for convincing him to stay. But the 18-year-old just was not ready to leave home. Orlando felt like too big of a city for him -- crazy to think about at that point considering how much the city has grown since. The prospect of moving away from home was a lot.

Vazquez carved out a successful international career. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in 19 seasons all in Spain's ACB League, mostly with Unicaja Malaga and Regal Barcelona. He peaked in 2009 with 12.0 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game for Regal Barcelona, unironically the same year Howard and Nelson led the Magic to the NBA Finals.

Vazquez never quite lived up to his draft billing in the end. It is not likely he would have worked out the way the Magic intended even if he made his way to the NBA.

Vazquez retired in 2020.

Yet, the Magic retained the placeholder on their books to keep his draft rights. If Vazquez ever did make it to the NBA, he would have to play for the Magic.

Was it for spite? Was it an investment? Was it to keep the trade option open in case it was needed? Was it to fill some money to stay above the payroll floor?

Even cap experts were a little puzzled why the Magic held on to these draft rights for so long. Especially considering Vazquez no longer looked like an NBA player and clearly had no intentions of going to the NBA.

Vazquez sat there taking up cap room, even if it was a small amount.

The Magic finally found use for that cap room though.

Orlando did not exactly go on a spending spree this summer. But with roughly $50 million in cap room, the team maximized its spending this offseason. It squeezed every bit of that room out—ultimately also renouncing Bird Rights cap holds for Markelle Fultz and Chuma Okeke to make room for all the signings they made.

By my cap math at least, the team used the room mid-level exception to sign Goga Bitadze. They used most of their free cap room in the renegotiate and extend deal with Jonathan Isaac, increasing his salary from $17 million this season to $25 million.

Orlando had to squeeze all the room it could get to make this summer work. And that finally meant it is time to say good bye -- or give up on the dream? -- to the Magic's 2005 NBA Draft pick.

The Fran Vazquez saga is finally over.