- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2007

The Washington Wizards finalized their trade of the rights to guard Juan Carlos Navarro, sending the former second-round draft pick to Memphis for a future first-round selection.

The first-round selection could come as early as next season or as late as 2013.

The Wizards had received interest from several teams regarding Navarro, a 6-foot-3 guard, since he was allowed to leave his Spanish club, FC Barcelona, earlier this summer.

“This gives us another asset and the ability to improve and build our team,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. “We can either use the pick or trade it.”

Navarro, the Wizards‘ second-round pick in 2002 at No. 40 overall, did not sign with Washington and returned to Spain, but the Wizards continued to hold his rights.

They had little interest in bringing Navarro to Washington, however, especially after re-signing DeShawn Stevenson earlier this summer.

“Our backcourt, led by Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson, Antonio Daniels and our recent draft pick Nick Young, is deep and versatile,” Grunfeld said. “By trading the rights to Juan Carlos Navarro — a former second-round pick of the Wizards — we have greater flexibility to build our team.”

Memphis will keep the traded selection if it is in the top 19 next season, top 16 in 2009 or top 14 in 2010, 2011 or 2012. There are no conditions if the pick lasts until 2013.

The deal had been agreed upon weeks ago but was contingent on Navarro’s buyout with his Spanish club, FC Barcelona. The 6-foot-4 Navarro had a $2 million buyout, of which the Grizzlies could pay $500,000.

Navarro became a hot commodity after staying overseas. The 27-year-old was named league MVP in 2006 and led FC Barcelona to four league champions and one European title. Navarro and Memphis teammate and close friend Pau Gasol were members of Spain’s FIBA World Championship team last year.

“It’s a win-win for both teams,” Memphis general manager Chris Wallace said. “Washington gets a good return on their investment. They turned the 40th pick into a first-rounder. We get a player with big-game experience and elite player on the European and International scene. He can score, he can pass and he is versatile.”

Washington likely will next focus on re-signing Andray Blatche, a restricted free agent. But negotiations with the 6-foot-11 Blatche apparently have slowed since the forward, who turns 21 on Wednesday, was arrested for solicitation of an undercover police officer early this month.