Three years —and two surgeries— after he was drafted, Juan Pablo Vaulet will finally don a Nets uniform at the Las Vegas Summer League next month. Vaulet, a month younger than D’Angelo Russell, was drafted at age 19 in the second round of the 2015 Draft, the Nets sending two second rounders and $880,000 to Charlotte to secure his rights.
”I was very happy to be invited to the Summer League,” Vaulet told NBA Mexico. “I think it’s a great opportunity for me, not only to be seen, but also to continue learning, to see how they are handled there, how they play and what are the issues basketball and physical I must continue to improve, it will be a great opportunity to see how I feel in that environment.“
Ironically, the Nets wanted Vaulet to play in Las Vegas the summer after he was drafted, but he got hurt between the Draft and the Summer League. The 6’7” swingman suffered a stress fracture of the tibia in his lower right leg while playing in the FIBA U19 World Championships in Greece. After traveling to Vegas with the Nets summer league team, his leg in soft cast, he underwent surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Dr. Martin O’Malley, the Nets foot specialist, performed the surgery.
Then in June 2017, he underwent “endoscopic” surgery, aka he got “scoped”, on the same troublesome right ankle. The surgery took place in Argentina. (Two years earlier, in 2013, he had had surgery on his left ankle that cost him 17 months.)
Vaulet is under no misconception that his Vegas gig will lead to an NBA contract.
“My game lacks many things to reach that level, so the good thing about this invitation is to have the chance to measure myself at that level, see how I feel and have an idea to continue working, with greater focus on specific issues that I want to continue developing thinking about the chance of being there in the future, I hope I can take advantage of this opportunity, “ he told NBA Mexico’s Leandro Fernández.
The Nets, under both Billy King, who drafted him, and Sean Marks have kept in touch with him, Vaulet noted.
“I always had a relationship with them, every three or four months they ask me how I feel, especially physically, then, of course, they constantly follow my development on the field. In these years they followed me, talked with me and worried about my situation “ he said.
In addition to the trip to Las Vegas in 2015, Vaulet came to Brooklyn just after Christmas in 2016 during a break in the Argentine season. The Nets wouldn’t acknowledge the visit, but Vaulet spoke about it to the Argentine press.
He 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 also underwent a check-up on his surgically repaired ankle which he described as giving him “peace of mind.”
During the 2017-2018 season of the National League of Argentina, Vaulet averaged 9.7 points shooting 56.8 percent from two point range, 28.6 from three, along with 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 23.7 minutes. Most importantly, he didn’t miss any games.
Vaulet was expected to play for the Argentine national team this weekend, but decided instead to begin training for his summer league stint.
In other stash news, Aleksandar Vezenkov was informed by F.C. Barcelona that it will not exercise a team option for the coming season, permitting him to look elsewhere in Europe. He is competing in the FIBA World Cup Qualifying Tournament for Bulgaria and will not join the Nets in summer league. Vezenkov, who had been a key player for Barcelona before being drafted in 2017, was shelved last season after the Nets drafted him.