Vasquez says he's perfect fit for Bucks and Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- Greivis Vasquez always thought he'd end up here.
Being scouted by Milwaukee, attending multiple pre-draft workouts in the city five years ago, almost getting traded to the Bucks at the deadline last season. It's funny, he said, but he just had a feeling he'd wind up with the team that "really wanted" him.
"I heard about the trade and I was just really happy," he said.
Not everyone, though, shared that viewpoint.
When Vasquez was dealt from the Raptors to the Bucks -- in exchange for a protected first-round pick and a second-round pick -- during the first round of last week's NBA Draft, the first trade of a torpid affair, the move was met by many fans and media with confusion and criticism. Why give up so much for a backup with a big salary? Doesn't this overcrowd the backcourt, especially at point guard? How does a 28-year-old with a methodical style and limited defensive ability suit a young, athletic, tenacious squad?
Vasquez no doubt heard all those questions and, during a 15-minute media session Thursday in which he was charmingly funny, endearingly honest and undeniably knowledgeable about his new team, the recently acquired Venezuelan used the word "fit" 10 times. In short, Vasquez believes he fits in -- not only with the city of Milwaukee, which he said he liked because it's "calm" and "tough," but especially with the Bucks.
"To me the NBA is all about fit, honestly," he said at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin Training Center. "I'm not BS-ing you guys; this is a perfect fit for my game, with the perfect coach."
That coach, of course, is Jason Kidd, himself a former point guard who is entering his third year on the bench. Last year, Kidd guided the Bucks to a 26-win improvement. Vasquez said he watched Kidd growing up, played against him and reveres the future Hall of Famer. He considers it a "privilege to play under him" and even sees a little bit of Kidd's game in his own.
"I feel like J-Kidd is really going to help me," the 6-foot-6 Vasquez said. "Because when I see myself, I obviously want to play like him, so being actually with him is going to be very beneficial for my game."
Besides the city and the coach, Vasquez said he's excited to be on the floor with the upstart Bucks, who went 41-41 and lost to the Bulls in six games in the first round of the postseason last year.
Vasquez said he watched the Bucks play "extremely well" in 2014-15 and was impressed with the playoff series against Chicago.
"I like our team," he said. "It's a young roster, very promising; great balance with some vets, some young guys that can jump out of the gym and do some crazy things I've never seen in my life. So I'm excited."
Vasquez played in all 82 games for Toronto last year, starting 29, and put up 9.5 points and 3.7 assists. For his career, he's averaged 9.2 points and 4.9 assists per game, shooting 42.2 percent from the field and 35.6 percent on 3-pointers. In 2012-13, with New Orleans, he started 78 games and put up career highs of 13.9 points and 9.0 assists, which also led the league that year.
Over the last two seasons with the Raptors, Vasquez made 38.5 percent of his 3s, and 3-point shooting was an area in which Kidd said the Bucks had to improve.
"They can pass me the ball; I can take those 3s," Vasquez said laughing. "I think that's something that I've worked on the last few years, so I feel pretty comfortable. But now I've got to get my guys involved. I want to get my 10 assists again and help get people better.
"I feel like with this roster is actually a great fit for me because we've got guys that can run the court, we've got shooters, we've got a big man that we can penetrate in the paint and drop it off to him, so it's going to be fun. I can't wait for training camp."
The big man to whom Vasquez was referring is free-agent center Greg Monroe, who reportedly agreed to terms with the Bucks on Thursday to a three-year max deal worth $50 million. The 25-year-old former Piston is a 15-point, 10-rebound player who operates in and distributes well out of the low post. Although contracts cannot be signed until next week, so deals aren't official and can't be announced, Vasquez was asked for his thoughts on the prospective new big man.
"I feel like Greg is really going to really help us," Vasquez said. "He's a center that can really post up and play with his back to the basket. He's a good passer, too, so he can do a lot of different things."
Vasquez had clearly done his homework on his new team and remained apprised of the Bucks' moves. Besides Monroe, he mentioned the re-signing of Khris Middleton, the return of Jabari Parker from injury and made reference to the general perception that Michael Carter-Williams was the starter at point guard. Still, Vasquez said, he's going to approach the job like it's an open competition he can win.
"Obviously I would love to start here; we've all got to earn that on the court," he said. "It's a possibility. We've got Michael, who is a really good point guard, too, and so it's going be a great level of competition. That's why they brought me here, nothing is guaranteed."
Including Milwaukee, Vasquez has been on five teams in his six NBA seasons, giving him some outside perspective on the rebuilt and rebranded Bucks. He said he liked the new colors and redesigned logo, and, being a "fashion guy," he was proudly rocking a fresh team hoodie and hat. On the court, too, he said people around the league are "definitely" looking at the team differently, mentioning that Raptors scouting reports last year noted how hard Milwaukee played.
One of the problems with having played for so many teams is that Vasquez has been unable to put down roots anywhere, which is something that the self-described "family-oriented" South American yearns to do.
"I can't guarantee anything because at the end of the day its business, but I'm here to stay," he said. "I don't want to leave. I really don't want to be moving around no more. Obviously it's part of the business, but if they brought me here and gave up what they gave up, then it's reciprocal, you know -- it's both ways.
"We're looking at a long-term relationship, so I'm willing to do that, plus this roster is very, very attractive. So why leave when we can do great things here?"
While in Milwaukee, Vasquez planned to find a place to live, so that when he returns he can focus solely on basketball. He'll spend some time at his house in Orlando before flying back to Toronto, where he's scheduled to be an ambassador for the Pan American Games being hosted by the city ("I'm a man of my word; I'm a loyal guy," he said of not reneging on the agreement despite being traded by the Raptors).
Then, after a couple weeks back home in Venezuela, he'll be back "early" to begin preparing for the upcoming season in Milwaukee, which is where he always thought he'd end up.
"I'm committed to this opportunity, to this city," he said. "This is a place where people wanted me here -- especially the coaches, the front office -- and that's important to me. I want to feel wanted; when you've got that feeling you can go out there and do your job easier.
"It's going to be worth it, I'm telling you. I'm going to bring something unique. I don't know, the Venezuelan flavor, something different."
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