Ryan's Place

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Vazquez May Stay In Europe for Year



The drafting of Spaniard Fran Vazquez has turned into a significant blunder for the Orlando Magic.

A franchise desperately seeking approval in Central Florida has found itself saddled with another public opinion nightmare.

A mildly unpopular pick last month on draft night became a magnet for stinging criticism last week when Vazquez announced that he wasn't mentally ready for the NBA, preferring to stay in Europe for at least another season.

It stunned the Magic and his own American agent, sending everyone scrambling to Spain this week, all looking for answers.

The effect of Vazquez's absence on the court this season will be minimal -- he might have averaged 15-18 minutes a night -- but his revelation sparked a flurry of biting attacks from passionate local Magic fans, mostly directing venom at management throughe-mails and phone messages.

It came at a time when the Magic believed momentum had started to build for next season's push toward the playoffs -- confident that the hiring of popular Coach Brian Hill, the maturing of former No. 1 pick Dwight Howard and growing chemistry between Steve Francis, Grant Hill and Hedo Turkoglu would lead them back to better times.

Then came Vazquez, a seemingly low-risk, high-reward pick that has backfired, putting a sudden halt to the excitement created earlier this summer by the hiring of Hill and continuing the Magic's recent dance of one step forward and one step back in the eyes of the public.

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