Juan Pablo Vaulet, back in Argentina after a week of check-ups and training in Brooklyn, was wowed by what he saw, but didn’t share with local reporters what if anything he learned about the Nets plans for his future. The owner of his Argentine team has said he’s suggested Brooklyn give Vaulet a D-League contract next season.
The trip was Vaulet’s first contact with the Nets organization since Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson took over the shop last winter. Still only 20, the 6’7” swingman, said he received both individual training, sometimes with two coaches helping out, at the HSS Training Center, traveled with the team and spent New Year’s with fellow Argentine Luis Scola. He spent a week, from December 27 to January 2, in the U.S. The Nets wouldn’t even confirm his visit.
"The Nets changed the leadership after I was drafted. They only knew me by video and wanted to see me personally," the player Argentines call “Juampi” told La Nueva Provincia, the newspaper in Bahia Blanca. The Nets drafted Vaulet in the 2015 Draft, shortly after his 19th birthday, sending two second rounders and $880,000 to Charlotte for his rights.
Vaulet said the biggest concern of his trip —a check-up on his surgically repaired ankle— gave him “peace of mind.” A week after the Nets drafted him, Vaulet was diagnosed with a stress fracture while playing in a FIBA tournament in Greece. The Nets brought him to New York where Dr. Martin O’Malley, the Nets foot and ankle specialist, performed reconstructive surgery. It was his second ankle surgery in less than two years.
He said doctors assured him there would be no need for additional procedures.
As for his workouts, Vaulet told reporter Fernando Rodriquez he also felt good about the individual attention he received, noting that “I have a lot of things to improve, like my two- and three-point shots ... I have to do it more naturally.”
The Nets see Vaulet has athletically gifted, with a quick first step, a potential on defense but a poor shot. He is shooting less than 30 percent from three and less than 55 percent from the foul line in Argentina, which is not a top ranked league internationally to begin with.
The fact that the Nets brought Vaulet up for a week —and worked with him individually— suggests some interest. It’s uncertain where he’ll be playing next season. Pepe Sanchez, the former Temple and NBA point guard who owns Bahia Blanca, has said he’s unlikely to sign Vaulet beyond this year, in large part because of budgetary reasons.
In an interview with ESPN Buenos Aires last month, he recommended to the Nets brass that they bring him to New York and sign him to a D-League contract with the Long Island club.
“I think Juan Pablo Vaulet is a player where the American game will help him more than in Europe,” said Sanchez, who is close to Billy King and first recommended Vaulet to the Nets.
“He is a different type of player. When you are an Argentine player, you need to know the game, cutting, different types of things which gives us confidence. He is athletic, super athletic. He needs space. In this league, it's more complicated for him. It would be complicated for him in beginning in Europe as well.”
Vaulet talked as well about the NBA scene. He was wowed by the individual attention, he received, the athleticism of the NBA players and the amenities in general.
“There are so many people at the disposal of the team. In the private plane which they mobilized there were about 50 people. And for them, it's normal!" He said in surprise.
He spent New Year’s Eve with Scola, his teammate on the Argentine national league. He worked out with Scola a couple of times, but mainly used him as a sounding board. He said the two “walked in the park” and talked about the NBA.
“He made me feel very good,” Vaulet said of Scola.
Thanks to GNYR on the NetsDaily board for his help in translating the interviews with Vaulet and Sanchez.