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Greivis Vasquez Still Doesn't Have An NBA Contract

When Greivis Vasquez was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA Draft, he had a smile wider than any draft pick I saw get picked. Two months later, it's safe to say Vasquez isn't smiling.

Things really could not have gone worse for Vasquez since draft day. First, he played in Summer League without a contract and promptly suffered an ankle injury. Now, due to the Grizzlies' sudden hardball tactics with their draft picks, Vasquez is without an NBA contract as training camp looms. Yeah, that's a pretty unfortunate turn of events.

Much of the attention with Memphis' strange tactics has centered around Xavier Henry, the player selected higher in the draft, but as Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes, it's Vasquez who should have much more of a beef with the team.

As Tilley writes, the Grizzlies are bucking the trend of giving first-round draft picks 120 percent of the rookie scale automatically (or at least with reasonable incentives). Instead, the Grizzlies are guaranteeing 100 percent of the scale and attaching performance incentives for the last 20 percent. 

Those performance incentives are the same for both Henry and Vasquez. They are as follows:

  • Play in Summer League
  • Work out with the team trainers for two weeks
  • Either a) play in the rookie/sophomore game, b) make the all-rookie team or c) play in at least 15 minutes a game for 70 games.
It's the third incentive that's unique and causing both players to balk at signing contracts. But as Tillery notes, those incentive clauses are more problematic for Vasquez than Henry.

Why? Vasquez, unlike Henry, played in Summer League without a contract, and has said all the right things about staying in Memphis. In return, Vasquez is slapped with a performance incentive he has very little chance of meeting, unlike Henry, who will likely be prominently featured. Not only was Henry a higher draft pick, but the Grizzlies went out and signed Acie Law to a four-year contract to play Vasquez's position, and they also have Mike Conley. How will Vasquez get enough court time to meet his performance incentive? 

General manager Chris Wallace is using the rhetoric of "competition breeds excellence" to defend the Grizzlies' decision, but the fact of the matter is that Vasquez and Henry do not have equal situations. Therefore, to make them reach the exact same performance incentive is, in Tillery's words, "absurd." 

I get that life isn't fair in the NBA and that late first-round picks don't get the same liberties as lottery picks. At the same time, it's true; Henry's perceived "injustice" has received way more attention than Vasquez. Hopefully now that will change.