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Losing Leverage

Ernie might be regretting asking for the moon with Juan Carlos Navarro.  

According to True Hoop's Henry Abbott, FC Barcelona officials told Navarro's representative Alex Saratsis that if a trade is not done by August 3 (that's a week from Friday), they plan on taking Navarro back by giving him a new contract with an even bigger buyout.  

Saratsis tells me that this morning, Barcelona officials declared they would only let Navarro out of his contract with a reasonable buyout if a trade is completed by August 3. As in, the end of next week.

Grunfeld has only a short time to accept a deal, or else, according to Saratsis, Barcelona officials will take Navarro back, and give him a new contract with a buyout so massive it will essentially guarantee that he will never play in the NBA. Saratsis says he is certain the Barcelona officials are not bluffing.

Well, that officially sucks.  While re-signing DeShawn Stevenson didn't have much of an effect on Navarro's market value, in my mind, this certainly does.  Getting absolutely nothing for Navarro is definitely a situation Ernie wants to avoid, and now, if this report is true, that's a definitive possibility if he can't get a deal done.

At least there are still a lot of teams interested, at least according to Navarro's representative.

So, what kind of offers can Washington expect to hear? A late first-round pick perhaps. A contract that will come off the cap in time for Washington to re-sign Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison is another possibility. Saratsis won't name all the teams that are interested, but says there are more beyond Miami and Memphis.

Washington no doubt wants a lot -- Navarro not only can play, but will do so with a reasonable contract. But asking for too much is fighting the reality that no European player without NBA experience has ever been traded for much of value.

Clearly, this lowers the chance of the Wizards getting back anything more than draft picks or salary-cap relief for JCN.  Now that teams realize Ernie isn't negotiating from a position of strength, they'll definitely adjust their offers accordingly.  I also think this lessens the chance of Ernie finding a taker for Etan Thomas, Brendan Haywood, or Antonio Daniels.  Unless a team truly needs that type of player and can deal someone that's expendable, I don't see why they would take on one of the Wizards' problems now.  

I'm not sure if we can really blame Ernie here -- I still believe signing DeShawn was the right move -- but perhaps we should be second-guessing him a little bit for asking for so much right off the bat.  This isn't like baseball, where the Nationals get extra draft picks even if they didn't deal Alfonso Soriano.  There's a legitimate possibility the Wizards end up with nothing, and that's a big problem.  

I still am optimistic Ernie can figure something out, but this news doesn't make me feel good about the situation.