Draft Pick Navarro Eager to Join NBA

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 31, 2007

Juan Carlos Navarro, the Spanish point guard who was drafted by the Wizards in the second round of the 2002 draft but has been playing with Barcelona of the Spanish Pro League, continues to talk about his desire to play in the NBA as soon as next season.

In a recent interview with http://www.draftexpress.com, Navarro said he is ready for the NBA after honing his game in Spain for several seasons. The Wizards hold Navarro's NBA rights and have been monitoring the 26-year-old, who is averaging 17.2 points on 44 percent shooting this season.

Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld recently completed a scouting trip through Europe, where he checked out prospects for this summer's draft and saw Navarro. For Navarro to play with the Wizards next season, he would have to buy out a portion of his contract with Barcelona.

The buyout is between $2 million and $3 million, according to a league source, and NBA rules state that the Wizards can pay only up to $500,000 of the buyout.

Toronto guard Jose Calderon played with Navarro for several seasons on the Spanish national team and said Navarro has the skills to play in the NBA. "I think he was disappointed not to come over last season," Calderon said. "The only problem is the buyout. He can definitely play in the NBA."

Last summer's first-round pick, Oleksiy Pecherov, is playing with BC Kiev of the Ukrainian league, and second-round pick Vladimir Veremeenko is playing with Khimky of the Russian league. Pecherov, who is under contract with BC Kiev, has a buyout option and is expected to sign with the Wizards this summer.

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