Friday, April 25, 2008

Season in Review: Juan Carlos Navarro

Juan Carlos Navarro was supposed to be here simply because Pau Gasol, his good friend, wanted him here. Pau is gone now but Navarro is talking like he wants to stay despite being a restricted free agent this summer. I wonder how long before LA makes him an offer and that attitude changes.

Of course Navarro may not want to play in LA. He is married, isn't making Gasol type money so maybe he is happier here. I know Memphis fans love him. He, like Hakim Warrick, obviously loves playing basketball. His smile is contagious. His flare for the game hasn't been seen since the early days of Jason Williams. He wears his emotions where everyone can see it and usually that emotion is like a little boy playing with a puppy. Pure joy and laughter.

Navarro is the type of player the beer chugging, weekend warriors think they could be. He's not so tall. He's not so fast. He just has a great vision of the game and plays for the love it more than anything else. Navarro would play the game for free and practically did this season after paying Barcelona to buy out his contract. How can the fans not love this guy?

He can shoot well but like most rookies he struggled with his shot. When he was on he could bring the team back from oblivion almost single-handed. He did that against New Orleans back in November when he hit 8 of 9 three pointers on the way to 28 pt game off the bench! The Grizzlies were down 12 points in the 1st quarter when Navarro checked into the game. When he sat back down the Grizzlies were down 4 points and Navarro had 19 pts and 2 assists over that span.

Defensively he improved during the year to reach a level of only being bad. He was really terrible at first but the fans accepted that in anticipation of seeing that peculiar haircut dropping a floater in the lane over 7 ft giants who looked silly trying to block it. Don't mistake his smile and emotion as not being concerned about the game either. Navarro is extremely competitive and wants the team to do well. Navarro really lives the game. Each close loss looked to injure him personally and the blowouts would leave him despondent.

The problem is that after the Gasol trade not only did Memphis lose his closest friend but the team also picked up a 19 yr old swing guard who needs to play and has a guaranteed contract not to mention being 7 yrs younger than Navarro. Where that leaves the Spaniard is unclear. Memphis is on the hook for 6 more years from the trade with Washington for a #1 pick. Obviously the Grizzlies didn't give away that draft pick for just one year's service. However there are only so many minutes to use at Shooting Guard behind Mike Miller. Quite likely Navarro will be used in a Sign & Trade deal for an upgrade somewhere else on the roster or for future picks.

If that happens this summer Memphis will surely miss the man who brought so much fun and excitement to the Grizzlies last season.

BallHype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

No offense memphis fans, but Im a big fan of navarro and I can't wait to see him out of memphis and playing for a team that at least knows the meaning of 'collective basketball'. I've had enough of seeing him stand for 20 straight seconds behind the three point line while rudy gay tries to get past double or triple defenses and ends up shooting it anyway. Navarro always has been able to score in many different ways, but this year all he did was shoot threes, and even that was only possible when the ball didn't get to gay. And then near the end of the season he had to see Critterton (who must be an amazing player at trainings, because he doesn't do anything in games and still has a good reputation) take over most of his minutes. I hope you're right and he plays somewhere else next year. As I said, no offense, I've been watching and rooting for the grizzlies all season long, I just hope I don't have to do it once again.

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