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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The Clock is Ticking on Juan Carlos Navarro


The Wizards are very fortunate that they hold the rights to Juan Carlos Navarro, who is said to be the best guard in Europe. They are even luckier that Navarro's European team, as a favor to their long-time star, has said they will reduce his gargantuan buyout so that he can join the NBA.

The problem is that he will not be playing in Washington. The Wizards are over the cap and only could have signed Navarro with money from their mid-level exception. Most of that money has now been given to DeShawn Stevenson, and the team still has to sign Andray Blatche.

One of Navarro's representatives, Alex Saratsis (he works with Henry Thomas at CSMG), tells me that despite the hope that something would be worked out, there is now no chance Navarro will play in Washington, owing to simple salary cap mathematics.

So, that means the Wizards are fielding offers for Navarro from interested teams like Miami and Memphis.

That process, however, is not going quickly enough for team officials in Barcelona.

Saratsis tells me that this morning, Barcelona officials declared they would only let Navarro out of his contract with a reasonable buyout if a trade is completed by August 3. As in, the end of next week.

Grunfeld has only a short time to accept a deal, or else, according to Saratsis, Barcelona officials will take Navarro back, and give him a new contract with a buyout so massive it will essentially guarantee that he will never play in the NBA. Saratsis says he is certain the Barcelona officials are not bluffing.

So, what kind of offers can Washington expect to hear? A late first-round pick perhaps. A contract that will come off the cap in time for Washington to re-sign Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison is another possibility. Saratsis won't name all the teams that are interested, but says there are more beyond Miami and Memphis.

Washington no doubt wants a lot -- Navarro not only can play, but will do so with a reasonable contract. But asking for too much is fighting the reality that no European player without NBA experience has ever been traded for much of value.

And now there's the reality that if Grunfeld's price is too high, the Wizards will end up with nothing.

Whatever happens, according to Saratsis, we'll know by the end of next week whether or not Juan Carlos Navarro will ever play in the NBA.