Greivis Vasquez was signed to a one-year, $5 million contract in July, $4.35 million guaranteed and $650,000 in unlikely incentives. That’s not for leadership or mentoring. It’s about production, Vasquez wants you to know.
“I’m not done yet. I’m a vet that can produce,” Vasquez told Brian Lewis Saturday. “Don’t sleep on me. I work too hard to just be a regular guy that talks in the locker room. I bring leadership, but I’m also going to bring [production], and it’s going to be on the court by playing hard, fouling somebody, hitting a big shot like I did when I was in Toronto.”
Vasquez is coming off ankle surgery, which took place last December. Other than a short four-game stint at the end of the season in Milwaukee, he hasn’t played since November and admits that he’s not 100 percent. His ankle pain, which kept him out of the Olympics, he said, is “manageable.”
He’s played in the Open Practice and all four preseason games. His 65 minutes, in fact, is only six fewer than Jeremy Lin and 20 more than Brook Lopez. Not bad for a guy who’s goal was merely to be ready for Opening Night. And after looking rusty in Open Practice and the first three preseason games, Vasquez played well, vs. Boston, scoring seven points, handing out four assists, hitting a three and grabbing three rebounds, all in 21 minutes.
“The last game was really productive for me, in terms of moving [my body]. I feel much better. I’m getting there. The next few games are going to help me. I’m happy where I’m at,” he said.
Of course, the Nets will be looking to the 29-year-old for leadership and mentoring. It’s just that Vasquez thinks he has a lot more to contribute. And although his contract is only for one year, he’s said he like to stay longer.
In fact, as Newsday’s Greg Logan writes, that leadership is not just about what he does on the court. As we reported last month, his foundation is funding scholarships for four young Venezuelan basketball players around the United States, one of them in Dix Hills, Long Island. It’s all about succeeding despite difficulties, as he did.
“I came from a humble neighborhood in Caracas where it was hard at times — drugs, killing, stealing, all that stuff around me real close. But it wasn’t an excuse for me. I had the desire to get better and do the right thing when nobody’s watching. I had the opportunity to come here.”