With pal Navarro on the way, Pau unlikely to be dealt
Posted: Tuesday August 7, 2007 1:29PM; Updated: Tuesday August 7, 2007 1:34PM
Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro is known as "La Bomba" for his long-range shooting and ability to hit driving floaters. Now he's about to drop a bomb on any team hoping to pry Pau Gasol from Memphis.
The Grizzlies and Wizards have a deal in place that would bring Navarro -- considered one of the top players in Europe -- to Memphis. The Wizards, who own the rights to the 6-foot-3 combo guard, would send him to the Grizzlies in return for a conditional first-round pick.
The deal, which involves a buyout of Navarro's contract with Winterthur FC Barcelona, was still being worked out as of Tuesday. But if it goes through, the Grizzlies are considered highly unlikely to turn around and trade Gasol.
Navarro, 27, is one of Gasol's best friends. The two have played together on the Spanish national team for years, joining to win the 2006 FIBA World Championships. They also were teammates on Barcelona, the Spanish League team for which Navarro has played since 1997.
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace wouldn't comment on any specifics involving Navarro, noting the deal wasn't yet complete. But he did say he never had any intention of trading Gasol in the first place, despite rumors to the contrary. The Bulls, Nets and Lakers were among the teams said to be interested in Gasol. Chicago engaged in serious trade discussions with Memphis before last season's trade deadline but couldn't work a deal. New Jersey and L.A., meanwhile, have made no secret of their desire to shore up their frontcourts.
"What I've said since taking the job is that [new coach Marc Iavaroni] and I are very excited about the players who are here," Wallace said. "We can't wait to get our guys here and into the system and the tremendous teaching staff we have in place.
"It was never our intent to come in and move this guy or that guy. These guys are our guys. You never say never in the NBA. If somebody calls you and hits you with a blockbuster offer, you have to listen. But our intent is to move forward with Pau Gasol, Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick and our other young guys."
Navarro certainly looks like another nice pickup for Wallace, who has already added 7-foot forward Darko Milicic and rookie point guard Mike Conley to a team that finished 22-60 a year ago after losing Gasol for the first two months with a broken foot. More of a shooting guard than a true point guard, Navarro is considered a legit scorer who could be a factor off the bench. Last year in the Spanish League, Navarro averaged a team-high 17.3 points and shot 47 percent from the floor.
Selected by Washington with the 40th pick in the 2002 draft, Navarro opted to stay in Europe for bigger money. But after four seasons in which he helped Barcelona win the Euroleague title in '03 and was named Spanish League MVP in '06, he apparently decided it was time to make the jump to the NBA. Several teams -- including the Heat -- were interested in acquiring him, but Gasol's presence in Memphis made the Grizzlies his top choice.
Navarro reportedly has negotiated a $2 million buyout from Barcelona, though another source puts the figure at closer to $3 million. Either way, he will be paying a big fee to come to the NBA. Because NBA teams can only contribute up to $500,000 to buy out a player, Navarro would have to cough up the rest.
As for the Wizards, they reportedly are set to get a lottery-protected first-round pick in the 2008 draft. Washington considered signing Navarro, but deemed him expendable because it just re-signed starting shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson to a four-year, $15 million contract and used its first-round pick (No. 16 overall) on USC swingman Nick Young. Plus, if the Wizards complete the deal with Memphis, that all but guarantees that one of Washington's East rivals won't end up with Gasol.