There is probably no player further from the Nets mind this off-season than their 2015 Draft stash Juan Pablo Vaulet. The 6'7" Argentine swingman is, by even his estimation, some years and some serious development away from even being an NBA prospect. The proverbial two years away from being two years away.
In fact, he told an interviewer last week that "the truth is they have not talked to me in recent months." There will be an opportunity for that to change next week in Las Vegas. While the Nets summer league team will be playing in the NBA Summer League, Vaulet will be practicing with Team Argentina as they prepare for three friendly games in preparation for the Rio Olympics, two against Nigeria and one vs. Team USA on July 22.
And increasingly, it looks like Vaulet will be part of the final roster, a young (20) star to complement what the Argentines call "historicos" or the "Generacion de Oro," the "Golden Generation": Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino, all part of the gold medal team from the 2004 Olympics. In four-on-four scrimmages this week in Argentina, Vaulet has been teamed with Ginobili, Scola and another veteran, Nicolás Laprovíttola.
His coach, Sergio Hernandez, said he has been pairing young players like Vaulet with the vets, with some predictable results. Vaulet, he said, "looked at them like they were at Disney." Ginobili, whose brother coached Vaulet this past season, has been seen talking to Vaulet, sharing a team meal with him and Scola. Maybe it will rub off.
Vaulet was taken with the 39th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft by the Hornets, then traded to the Nets for two future second round picks and $880,000 in cash, mainly on the recommendation of Frank Zanin, the now departed assistant GM who raved about him after a South American scouting trip. Since then, he's had to undergo ankle surgery and a long recovery, both physically and mentally. He did play well in his team's playoff run last month.
"The psychological factor plays a decisive role," he told his interviewer. "No one has to go back only to recover physically, but he has to work his head, feeling confident again. One must know how to find the patience. Knowing what you want can achieve the objectives."
And the NBA? "It's difficult, but I also understand that I am at a stage where I have to listen a lot. Everything will happen at the time when they have to. I have to enjoy the process."