Wizards, Navarro at Fork in Road

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Washington Wizards have until the end of next week to sign guard Juan Carlos Navarro or trade his NBA rights to another team, according to a source close to Navarro.

Navarro's team in Spain, FC Barcelona, delivered the ultimatum. Navarro, who was drafted by the Wizards in the second round in 2002, has been a star for Barcelona for several seasons, but negotiated his way out of his contract earlier this summer because he wanted to play in the NBA.

Barcelona agreed to Navarro's wishes and significantly lowered his buyout from around $14 million to between $2 million and $3 million.

The Wizards have 10 players under contract and are expected to sign second-round pick Dominic McGuire and retain restricted free agent forward Andray Blatche. The team has never seriously considered signing Navarro, who is seeking a contract that would pay him around $3.5 million, according to a league source.

Eight teams have contacted the Wizards with interest in acquiring Navarro, including the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies, but so far, no offers have been to the liking of Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld.

Should Navarro return to Barcelona, the Wizards would continue to hold his NBA rights but Barcelona would push the buyout back to $14 million, making it highly unlikely that Navarro would be able to play in the NBA in the next few seasons.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the Wizards and Blatche have continued, according to a team source. Because Blatche is a restricted free agent, the Wizards would have the option of matching any offer made to him by another team.

-- Ivan Carter

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