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Greivis Vasquez ... The Olympian who isn't there

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Team USA beat a resilient Venezuela Monday, but the South Americans were without their best player, Greivis Vasquez, who is back in the United States trying to get ready for training camp with the Nets. The Nets need him more than the Venezuelans.

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After swinging and missing on restricted free agents Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, Sean Marks had to go to plan B in mid-July.. Part of plan B was signing a point guard to backup Jeremy Lin.  Marks quickly signed Greivis Vasquez to a one-year deal worth $5 million, $4.35 million guaranteed and $650,000 in (unlikely) bonuses.

Now, that Vasquez is out of the Olympics and needs to "get back to full strength" nine months after his bone spur surgery, what's up? Hard to tell.

Marc Stein reported in his Olympic preview that indeed Vasquez needs more time to recuperate. And both Vasquez and Marks said in simultaneous statements July 29 that the decision was mutual and made after consulting with Nets team doctors, one of whom, Dr. Martin O'Malley, performed the surgery last December. Neither statement gave any indication if he will be ready for camp. Don't expect much more information for a while.

Before going under the knife, Vasquez had a down season in 2015-16 with Jason Kidd and the Bucks. In announcing the procedure, the Bucks suggested Vasquez could be back in three or four months. Kidd even suggested he could return for the playoffs. Of course, when the four months were up, the Bucks season was over. No playoffs. Now, it's nine months later and there's cause for concern.

At the time of his last game on November 27, Vasquez looked nothing like he had.  He was averaging 7.1 points, 4.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 16 games. Kidd did credit him with attempting to play through pain.

Of course, most Nets fans remember Vasquez as a thorn in the Nets side when Brooklyn faced the Raptors in the playoffs in 2014. Vasquez averaged 10.1 points and 5.1 assists in the 27.1 minutes per game that he faced off against Brooklyn in the 7-game thriller of a series. It wasn't that much of a surprise. Vasquez has always played with passion.

His greatest NBA success came in the 2012-13 season with New Orleans. Vasquez averaged 13.9 points and 9 assists per game with New Orleans. it was the best season of his seven-year NBA career.

In fact, Vasquez, 29 averaged 9+ points per game for five seasons in a row until running into an injury-riddled slump last year. It hurt his value in free agency.  In his last year of a mutli-year deal last season, he earned $6.6 million. He could only get that one year, $5 million deal from the Nets. Not many free agents signed for less money in the TV rights-infused summer just past.

This could be Vasquez's last chance to be a point guard, backup or starter, in the NBA. Vasquez is getting up there in age and if he has another down season with injuries it could scare teams away from signing him next summer in free agency. It's also important to the Nets, who have only one other veteran backup PG on the roster, Randy Foye.

When healthy, Vasquez is a gritty player who will do anything it takes to help his team win and he's also a quality backup point guard who can run an offense effectively. To Vasquez, this is an opportunity to prove to everybody that he's ready to contribute.

Although Vasquez should be Jeremy Lin's backup, there hopefully will be times where the two of them are on the court at the same time.

When healthy, Vasquez has been a productive, versatile player, but that's going to be the main question coming into the season... Can Vasquez stay healthy?

There is some encouraging news.  After Vasquez and Marks issued simultaneous statements on his decision to drop out of the Olympics, it was only a few days before Vasquez announced he was back in camp...

1er día de trabajo. 1st day of work.. #TeamVasquez

A photo posted by #TeamVasquez (@greivisvasquez) on

So, for now we will have to wait and see how healthy he will be. Signing Vasquez to a one-year deal would seem to be a smart move. It allowed Vasquez to come off of the books next summer for the Nets and it could give Vasquez a chance to earn himself a lot of money next summer when the NBA cap is projected to be near $102 Million.

Also, if Vasquez does recover and plays well, he could become an interesting trade asset at the deadline when contenders are looking for pieces ... insurance for their playoff run.  Vasquez could yield a pick or a young player.

It could just be getting back into basketball shape. Before dropping out, his national team coach Nestor Garcia had said Vasquez has been "concentrating on getting in shape physically."  We shall see.