NBA AM: Vasquez Still Looking For His Place
Vasquez Looking For His Place: Like many of his New Orleans Hornets teammate Greivis Vasquez is trying to find his place in the NBA. Named the 2010 ACC Player of the Year as a senior at Maryland, Vasquez jockeyed a solid college career into being a first-round draft pick. After a solid rookie season, Vasquez was traded to the Hornets where he hopes he can find some success not only for himself but for his team.
“It’s a young team,” Vasquez told HOOPSWORLD. “We’re all trying to adjust to each other. Even though we lost six games straight, I thought we should have had won four or three. We lost them the last five minutes of the game because we need more experience with each other and we need to execute better. We need to calm down a little bit and trust each other at tough times.
“Our record doesn’t really reflect how hard we work and how hard and tough the whole situation is and we’re missing a lot of guys that we need. We haven’t had our whole team together. We beat Boston, we beat Denver at Denver and then we beat Phoenix at Phoenix. We’ve got to take care of home so we’re going in the right direction.”
A common comment about this Hornets squad is that most of the guys playing big minutes have no real defined NBA role yet, and that is something many of the players feel plays in their favor.
“That’s why I think I like this whole situation,” said Vasquez. “I think I’ve got to build some foundation. I’ve got to really gain the trust of coach and just run the team.
“I don’t really have to score, just got to be a leader. I thought when I played against Denver and I came in my first five minutes off the bench and did a good job just being a leader and talking and pushing the tempo. We got the lead and I came out, that’s my job I’m not really here to score or be a hero. I just try to do my job so the team has a better chance to win and when everybody finds their roles I think we’re going to be a playoff team.”
The Hornets started the season at a huge disadvantage. The team had nine D-League and camp invites when they opened the season as they tried to resolve the Chris Paul situation before they could fill out their roster. By the time the roster was sorted out, the season had already begun and the team has had only six practices together, making it hard to not only define a real rotation, but hard for the players to find out how to play with each other.
“It’s extremely hard,” explained Vasquez. “Especially for young guys like me, Al-Farouq, DaJuan Summers and Jason Smith. We need that practice because we get more reps. In the games you might play 10 or 12 minutes, but in practice you can constantly work at it, repetitions, and then you come to the game and you’re used to it.
“I’m a gym rat. I love practicing. Maybe because I haven’t played really constant minutes; this year is when I’m playing 20 minutes, 19 minutes a game. For me I don’t think you define yourself your first two years in the league. I think where you define yourself is on your third year because you gain that confidence from the first and the second year.
“Practice is so important to me especially for a guy that needs to use his brain. I need to use my brain most of the time because I’m not the most athletic or the quickest guy so I’ve got to really study tape and go out there and make it happen.
“It’s a crucial time, but I try to learn as I go and I watch tape with the coaches every day. I think I have so much room to get better and then today I’ve got to try and just run the team and when I’m out there just be solid. Try to bring energy off the bench and get people to the right spots and run the plays and be a leader, be myself.”
With the Hornets trying to find out who they are on the fly, there is a great opportunity and that’s not lost on Vasquez.
There is no defined superstar that will get 30 touches a night, and for the most part the starting rotations are not carved in stone.
“I think that’s the way I look at it,” admitted Vasquez. “That puts pressure on the players because we all want to do good. That’s the good thing about this team. If I’m doing ok, Squeaky comes in and takes advantage of his minutes. He’s going to go out there and take advantage because he wants to play.
“When you have the right mentality and everybody’s looking out for each other I think that was the biggest thing last year at Memphis. Everybody was so ready no matter what. You could have played the third point guard, you could have played the third shooting guard, we had and everybody was ready and I feel the same way on this team.
“Everybody on the bench is so ready to play.”
The Hornets are 3-9 on the season, but after spending time around the team you can see they are a whole lot better than their record. For players like Greivis this is a real opportunity to define his role in the NBA and he plans to make the most of the opportunity.
Deron And Dwight: Yesterday HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram piggy backed off of something ESPN put out and while the ideas presented in both pieces have merits, there is something else to know about New Jersey’s Deron Williams and Orlando’s Dwight Howard.
Deron Williams is surprisingly very happy in New Jersey despite all the losing. The team has done a very good job playing to Deron’s wants and needs and from all accounts Deron really likes living in the City.
The team has thoroughly involved him in the process and has sought his input on almost everything they are doing. Deron sees the big picture and has really bought into what the Nets are selling.
Deron is not signing a contract extension, so there is that. But the new Collective Bargaining Agreement makes doing so a very bad business moves. Deron will opt out, but sources close to the process say Deron will play recruiter, much like Dwyane Wade did with Miami, try to lure in players he wants to play with to Brooklyn and then sign a new long-term deal.
Deron has already started that process.
Enter Dwight Howard.
Howard’s desire for a trade from Orlando has not changed. He and his agent have made it clear Dwight wants to move on with his career and for what it’s worth New Jersey/Brooklyn is the top choice according to sources close to the process.
Howard has thoroughly talked the process through with Deron Williams and it seems all but inevitable he will land there either by trade at the deadline, via trade in July either in a sign-and-trade, or by walking away to the Nets on a free agent deal.
Before you ask why hasn’t the deal been made yet… keep in mind that a deal was consummated.
The Magic had agreed to a framework that would have landed Howard in New Jersey before the start of training camp only to have the deal nixed by ownership.
Magic chairman Rich DeVos turns 86 in April. There are not a whole lot of tomorrows in his future and tearing the Magic down and rebuilding is unfavorable to ownership on a lot of levels, but mainly because the family has spent countless millions trying to win a championship and they are more concerned with winning now that preparing for tomorrow.
The Magic will never get back what they send out with Howard and the team seems resigned to the idea of ‘let’s see how far we can go this year.’
There are a couple of wrinkles. If the Magic can really win and win big they may be able to change Howard’s mind – he waffles on a daily basis, so the Magic are hoping a strong season can sway him.
The Magic are trying to make moves before the trade deadline. Their hope is to add a strong player to the roster that, combined with what’s working already, can propel the Magic enough to seriously challenge in the post-season.
There is inevitability that Dwight Howard will be traded; the question is when will Ownership say its time?
The New Jersey Nets are hoping that its sooner than later, because if the Nets cannot lure Howard to Brooklyn that’s when things with Deron Williams may start to sour and when that happens, Williams could change his tune too.
As things stand today “Let’s all meet in Brooklyn” seems real – until it isn’t.
Magic fans may not like how that feels, but keep in mind the Magic need to win now for a whole lot of reasons and keeping Dwight in Central Florida is one of several.
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