So after the Memphis Grizzlies and restricted free agent Juan Carlos Navarro have agreed that the Qualifying Offer could be rescinded, he is now an unrestricted free agent. Last summer, also as a restricted free agent with the Grizz, Navarro signed a five-year, $15 million contract to play for FC Barcelona in Spain.
So what does this mean? Will we ever see Navarro back in the NBA? Don’t count on it. He had a decent year his one season with the Grizzlies in 2007-08 (10.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 36% shooting from three), but according to sources it was also frustrating, perhaps to the point where he would never give the NBA a second chance. But if he did, where might he go?
Part of the appeal of going to the Grizzlies in the first place was the ability to play with fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol, which could give the Los Angeles Lakers an edge on everyone else should Navarro decide a second stint in the NBA is worthwhile. Are the Lakers interested? Yes, yes they are.
However, the Lakers can only offer a minimum contract, which is not going to entice Navarro to make the jump. Keep in mind, though, the Grizzlies can still work Navarro in a sign-and-trade deal (if they did not also renounce his rights when they cancelled the Qualifying Offer), so should they decide they wanted to help the Lakers out (very likely with the benefit of a future #1 pick and some cash to take on a Lakers contract), it’s still doable. Do they still own his rights? Probably not – they had to remove Navarro’s cap hold in order to sign Iverson.
Likely in 2009? No, not at all. Next year would seem to be even more likely rather than this one, but again it’s not entirely clear Navarro would ever consider the NBA again.
IT’S 1989, AND BRYANT IS 11 YEARS OLD AND LIVING in Italy, where his father, Joe, is playing professional basketball. One day Kobe bugs Brian Shaw, a Boston Celtics first-round pick playing in Rome because of a contract dispute, to go one-on-one. Eventually Shaw agrees to a game of H-O-R-S-E. “To this day Kobe claims he beat me,” says Shaw, now a Lakers assistant. “I’m like, Right, [I’m really trying to beat] an 11-year-old kid. But he’s serious.” Even back then Shaw noticed something different. “His dad was a good player, but he was the opposite of Kobe, real laid-back,” says Shaw. “Kobe was out there challenging grown men to play one-on-one, and he really thought he could win.”
“Showboat. That’s what I called him, still do. I’ll never forget the fire in that young man’s eyes. Burned right through you. Never went out. Showboat was the first guy to show up every day, the last to leave. Sure, the talent was there, it was so obvious. But more than the talent was the passion. A dozen years later, it’s still there, the talent and the passion.”—B. Scott on Kobe