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Grunfeld Sees Spanish Star

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld recently returned from a scouting trip that included several stops in Europe. Among the players Grunfeld watched was Juan Carlos Navarro, a guard for FC Barcelona.

The Wizards still hold Navarro's NBA rights after taking him in the second round of the 2002 draft, but Navarro's contract with FC Barcelona runs through 2009 and contains a $13 million buyout clause. The 6-foot-4, 192-pound Navarro is considered one of the top players in Europe and helped lead Spain to the world basketball championship title this summer in Japan.

The Wizards dipped into the international talent pool again in June's draft, taking forward Oleksiy Pecherov (Ukraine) in the first round and forward Vladimir Veremeenko (Belarus) in the second round.

High on Hawks

The Wizards came away from Tuesday night's 96-95 win with a healthy respect for the Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards have dominated the series, going 8-1 against Atlanta since the start of the 2004-05 season. But behind Joe Johnson, the youthful Hawks appear to be making strides.

"They've had a couple of years together and you saw that maturity against us," Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said. "Joe Johnson is a great player, and they really made it tough for us. They're going to make it tough for a lot people."

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