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The bittersweet exit of Greivis Vasquez

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NBA: Indiana Pacers at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

There’s good news and bad news in the Hoopshype interview with Greivis Vasquez, who the Nets signed as Jeremy Lin’s back-up this summer but then needed season-ending surgery. The loss of Vasquez, coming after Lin went down with a hamstring strain, basically screwed the Nets season. The team was left without a veteran point guard. Vasquez was also a leader in the locker room.

For the first time, Vasquez —or anyone— described in detail why after 38 minutes of playing time in three games, he had to go under the knife for a second time in a year.

“The last two years, I played 23 or 24 games with a badly atrophied ankle,” Vasquez told Hoopshype, explaining why he needed the surgery. “They cut a bit of the tibia to create space in that area. It is called distraction surgery. I was given PRP injections to help regenerate cartilage and heal the bone faster. My ankle now has the biomechanics of a normal ankle. This gives me hope I can get back better.”

So, basically, the first surgery, done while he was a Buck in the 2015-16 season wasn’t enough.

“In 2015, they removed bone fragments and cleaned out the ankle,” he said of the first surgery. “But the truth is that I should have had the 2016 surgery to begin with. Sports medicine is one thing, general medicine is another. This is my opinion. And the general medicine doctor I went to was very experienced in this technique. He was able to give me a broader and more logical explanation. Had I done this in 2015, I would be playing by now.”

That’s the bad news: Vasquez was never going to be able to perform this season. He thought he could get away with the limited surgery, but couldn’t. In fact, when he and the Nets agreed that he should abandon the Olympics, he told his Venezuelan fans he had had 18 months of pain. (What is it with Nets point guards and reluctance to undergo ankle surgery?)

So what’s the good news? Vasquez raves about the Nets organization (who did pay him $4.3 million this season.)

“The Nets supported me big time. They were very professional, very ethical and responsible regarding my situation,” he said. “Actually, I’d like to go back to Brooklyn and play for them. We’ll see how things work out. I have a lot of respect for them.

“Sean Marks is young, but he knows what he is doing. He is very smart. I have confidence in his work, regardless of whether I return to the team or not. The same goes for coach Kenny Atkinson. He is an amazing person. He has a great staff.

“They are doing things really well. Although the results do not yet show, sometimes you have to take two steps back to move forward. His strategy is really smart. They offered contracts to important players, but unfortunately their teams matched the offers. On top of that, Jeremy Lin got injured. They are laying the foundation for future success. Sean Marks will not stand pat. He will try again this summer, and the Nets will be a winning franchise again.”

Vasquez says he keeps in touch with the Nets, and Atkinson offered to have him come to Brooklyn in April or May, “no strings attached,” to work out at HSS Training Center. In June or July, he wants to work out for teams in hopes of a return.

“Brooklyn’s program is very solid and productive,” he added. “Coach Kenny’s methodology is very good. Brooklyn is a very attractive team in a very attractive city. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”