FINALLY! HE IS HERE!
Is Fran Vazquez coming to America — and Magic?
We have a Fran Vazquez update for you: The Spanish power forward apparently is closer to washing up on Orlando's shores.
Decir lo que? (Say what?)
The Magic say Vazquez — who stood them up after they drafted him in the first round in 2005 — is coming around to joining them for the 2011-12 season.
He has another year left on his contract with FC Barcelona.
"It's more open now than it has been in the past with Fran," Magic assistant general manager Dave Twardzik told the Sentinel.
After the Magic surprisingly picked Vazquez No. 11 — ahead of Indiana's Danny Granger — he burned and embarrassed the club with his no-show.
He put his name in the draft, but quickly became intimidated by the moment — even after arriving in Orlando, post-draft, for media interviews.
Barely able to speak the language and fearful of the culture shock as a small-town kid, Vazquez decided to stay in his native land. His father had died and his girlfriend — now his wife — wanted no part of the NBA.
Twardzik said barriers have now been knocked down, to some degree, because Vazquez has matured and learned a bit more English.
"All that has changed in many ways," Twardzik said.
A 6-foot-11, 230-pound power forward/center, Vazquez, 27, had a nice upside when the Magic selected him. He struggled mightily at times after signing a four-year deal with Akasuayu Girona.
His stock is apparently up again with Barcelona, according to overseas reports, especially as a defender and shot-blocker.
Twardzik said the Magic last saw Vazquez "face-to-face" in March and frequently exchange e-mails with him.
The Magic hold onto Vazquez's NBA rights as long as they want. I'm surprised they wouldn't be looking to unload him, given they are up to their ears in power forwards.
A postscript: The intriguing aspect of the Vazquez saga is that his American agent is Marc Cornstein. (Vazquez also is represented by two agents overseas.)
Cornstein had a public falling out with the Magic, particularly General Manager Otis Smith, in 2007 after the club did not re-sign PF Darko Milicic. Cornstein says he and Smith have put their nasty feud behind them, adding that he would help facilitate Vazquez's move to the Magic if he decides to come over.
"One [Milicic's issues] would have nothing to do with the other," Cornstein said. "Otis and I are fine. We've seen each other. It was years ago. It was an emotional time. I was less than thrilled with the way it was handled. It's past history."