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Rumor: Yi Could Pull a Fran Vazquez

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Back in 2005 the Orlando Magic drafted Spanish big man Fran Vazquez thinking he and Yi Movement endorser Dwight Howard would be an imposing tandem for years to come. Unfortunately things went Orlando Tragic once again and the Vazquez didn't come to Orlando after the draft electing to continue playing in Barcelona. To date Vazquez has yet to play for the Magic.

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Another great move in Orlando Tragic history.

Today Andy Katz of ESPN.com notes that Yi's story could parellel Vazquez's if the team that selects him isn't a good fit:

Yi Jianlian will be an interesting side story during the lottery. The Chinese forward could end up pulling a Fran Vazquez, who was picked No. 11 by Orlando in 2005 and decided to stay in Europe. If Atlanta and Boston were to pass on Yi at No. 3 and No. 5, then the question will be where does he go? If he doesn't go Chicago with No. 9, then someone may take him hoping he'll play. But Yi's representation has made it clear they want him in the right situation or there is a chance he would just stay in China.

Given Vazquez's situation and Yi's rumored stance there's several good topics for discussion here:

  • Is the NBA losing it's luster as the biggest stage for professional hoops? I find it interesting that players like Vazquez and Yi don't see NBA or bust. The days of every single international player dying to make the jump to the NBA and USA (if those days ever did in fact exist) seem to be long gone. Does this say something about the league or does it signify a larger global shift in attitudes about immigrating to USA and living the mythical American dream?

  • Is it good for the league when players tell certain teams to not draft them? (i.e. the Steve Francis and Vancouver Grizzlies situation) Let's say Francis actually lived up to his nickname as Stevie Franchise. Imagine how screwed the Grizzlies and their two fans would have been. The NBA Lottery is a very important tool for improving a bad team and not being able to select a particular player when you are in a position to could set a franchise back serveral years.

  • Will Yi's strategy work? His people have been very strategic throughout the draft process so far about getting him on approved team (the Warriors are Yi approved). Are NBA teams not deemed a good fit by his crew and in a position to draft him, seriously going to pass him up if they see him as the answer for their squad?


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99% of rumors never happen, but 99% of them are fun to talk about!