In 2004, the Orlando Magic drafted Dwight Howard, thus ushering in a new era of sunshine and might that should last at least through next summer.
The following June, Orlando picked Spanish power forward Fran Vazquez at #11. Vazquez was meant to complement Howard without watering down the new vision for the team that D-How represented.
Trouble is, Vazquez never signed with Orlando, even though everyone assumed that he had his eyes on the NBA. This would have been a tremendous embarrassment for the Magic, had Howard not turned out as dominant as he did and the rest of that team not so seamlessly fallen into place.
Well, nearly six years later, Fran Vazquez is alive and well, playing in Spain. And he might come to the Magic, who retain his rights forever and ever.
Fran Vazquez, currently playing with Regal FC Barcelona, was drafted by the Orlando Magic in the 2005 Draft (11th). Will he ever play in your franchise?
[Team President] Alex Martins: We think so. Otis Smith has followed him and has frequently talked with Fran. I think he could be really close to coming to the NBA. His contract with Regal FC Barcelona ends this season and we hope he can make a decision, to know if he is ready to move to Florida. We keep his rights and if he’s available, we want to see him in our roster next season.
Consider this part of the rush to retain Howard, Phase One. But it’s also an utter anomaly these days: A young international player sticking around and developing on foreign soil, rather than being dragged to America and possibly thrown away too soon.
If Vazquez pans out, maybe we will see a return to some version of this patience. After all, it’s what happened with Manu Ginobili. At the same time, the Minnesota Timberwolves would still love to have Ricky Rubio right now, even if Rubio’s isn’t quite ready yet.
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