Interview: Juan Carlos Navarro

Interview: Juan Carlos Navarro
Mar 29, 2007, 02:12 am
Euroleague star Juan Carlos Navarro grants DraftExpress an in-depth and far-reaching interview on a variety of topics, including his thoughts on potentially leaving Barcelona this summer for the Washington Wizards.

Juan Carlos Navarro Scouting Report

DraftExpress: Once again, you are leading the Euroleague in scoring, with 18 points per game in the group stage. How are things different for you this time around, and how do you keep your edge week in and week out as possibly the most marked player on the continent?

Juan Carlos Navarro: I motivate myself by wanting to be the best possible player and teammate that I can be. I want to give the fans and the club my best possible effort. It is a great honor to play for Barcelona and I want to give my best in every outing, whether it be in the Euroleague or the ACB competition.


DraftExpress: What do you think of Barcelona's chances of reaching the Final Four in Athens? What needs to happen as far as the team is concerned for that to occur?

Juan Carlos Navarro: I think that Barcelona has as good a chance as any to get to the Final Four. We have a great team and great chemistry. We just have to continue to approach every game with the same intensity and desire to win. We have had several injuries this year and we are hoping that Mario [Kasun] will be back for the Top 8 which will give us a little bit more help in the frontcourt. We began to turn our season around with our championship in the King’s Cup and we can only hope to continue this success. We have a familiar opponent in Unicaja Malaga but they are a very strong team and played very well in the Top 16. We will just have to play hard every night and hope for the best.

DraftExpress: You've been with Barcelona almost your entire life, starting in 1996 with the juniors...tell us a little bit about the connection you have to this organization and the fans.

Juan Carlos Navarro: I have a tremendous connection with the Barcelona organization and the fans. Every time I step out on the court I want to represent the team and organization to the best of my ability. The fans have been extremely supportive of me throughout my career in Barcelona and I can only hope that I can continue to give them something to cheer about this year as well.

DraftExpress: Run us through a typical day in the life of Juan Carlos Navarro, especially on a day that doesn't have a game or travel involved.

Juan Carlos Navarro: We don’t have a lot of time to ourselves. We practice a lot and we are always preparing for games both home and away. We play Euroleague Wednesday/Thursday and ACB Saturday/Sunday so we are almost always traveling or preparing for games. However, on the days we don’t travel I try and dedicate as much time as I can to my wife and my children. I don’t see them very often and I want to spend as much time with them as I can.

DraftExpress: European basketball seems to be a revolving door of players changing teams every summer, and sometimes multiple times during the year even...what do you think that does for team chemistry and how much of an advantage have you had being in the same place for over a decade now?

Juan Carlos Navarro: I have been one of the few players that has played his entire professional career with one team, something that not many people do anymore. I think that changing players constantly makes it difficult for a team to maintain good chemistry year in and year out. However, we have been lucky in Barcelona because we do not change many players every year so we get to know each other well. Unfortunately this is not like the NBA where players have contracts for many years with their clubs so it is just a part of the business. As one of the leaders of this team, it is my responsibility to make sure that we maintain good team chemistry and that everyone on the team has the same goal.

DraftExpress: You've been extremely loyal to Barcelona over the past few years, and have been rewarded handsomely for you think they will reciprocate by lowering your NBA buyout if the situation makes sense for both sides?

Juan Carlos Navarro: Right now I am focusing on playing for Barcelona and helping them reach the ACB Finals and the Euroleague Final Four. I only hope that when the time is right we can sit down and they will take into consideration that I have given my professional life to Barcelona. I would play for no other club in Europe.


DraftExpress: For years basketball fans around the world and Washington Wizards fans in particular have talked about the possibility of you one day joining the NBA. How much more of a realistic option is that now compared to years past?

Juan Carlos Navarro: I would love the opportunity to play for the Washington Wizards. Everyone grows up with the dream of playing in the NBA. I feel that they are a good young team with great guard play and I feel I could fit in great and really help the team get to the next level. That is a discussion that I hope will take place in the near future. As an athlete, I am always looking for new challenges and I feel that playing in the NBA for the Washington Wizards would be a great challenge. In past years I may not have been ready for the NBA and the style of play but I think that I have really developed as a player since I was drafted in 2002 and I think that I am ready to compete at the NBA level.

DraftExpress: It seems like you've been around forever, but you are actually only 26 years old. Do you feel like we've already seen everything you have to offer, or are there still parts of your game that you think you can show serious improvement on?

Juan Carlos Navarro: I do not think that people have seen everything that I can do. There are always aspects of your game that an athlete can improve on. I feel that I have improved a lot on my defense and my ability to find the open man and run the offense as a true point guard, but as a player, the moment you stop developing your game is the moment you hang up your sneakers.

DraftExpress: In Europe, a lot more than the NBA, there is much more of an expectation for players to play for their national teams without even thinking twice. Have you ever thought what it would be like to have an entire offseason to yourself, and has the thought of not playing for Spain-- like Pau Gasol did two years ago--cross your mind?

Juan Carlos Navarro: It is an honor to play for the National Team. I have been playing with the National Team at every level and I have never turned them down. Whenever the National Team needs me, I am there.

DraftExpress: What kind of contact, if any, have you had with the Washington Wizards over the past few years?

Juan Carlos Navarro: I have kept in contact a little bit with Washington over the past few years. I think we both felt that I needed time to continue to develop in Europe so there was not much to discuss. Now I think I am ready to not only compete, but also to help Washington. I leave the communication to my agents. Right now I need to focus on winning games for Barcelona. When the time is right, I am sure the discussions will be there.


DraftExpress: Do you think things might have turned out differently had you gone undrafted in 2002 and had the chance to explore the NBA market as a free agent?

Juan Carlos Navarro: Everything happens for a reason. I am sure that things may have been different if I was a free-agent this summer, but I am very glad that Washington believed in me and took a chance to draft me. I am a loyal person and I appreciate the belief they have in me and my abilities as an NBA player.

DraftExpress: What would it take to get you in an NBA uniform this summer?

Juan Carlos Navarro: That is a difficult question. I think that I have done enough during my time with Barcelona to show that I am ready to play for their team. Obviously, it would have to be right for everyone involved; myself, Barcelona and Washington. If everyone feels it is the right time for me to play in the NBA, I am sure that we will come to an agreement. I feel that the best situation for me is Washington with their guard play and I know that I can help the team.

DraftExpress: We've heard all kinds of crazy figures about what your actual buyout is to get out of your contract in Spain...can you share what that number is?

Juan Carlos Navarro: I’d rather not discuss figures. That is a discussion that will come when the time is right.

DraftExpress: As a fellow Spaniard, what are your thoughts on Rudy Fernández?

Juan Carlos Navarro: I think that Rudy is a phenomenal talent. He has athleticism that usually isn’t seen in European players. He has really developed this year and is playing great both in the ACB and the Euroleague. I think he is one of the players that is the future of Spanish basketball and will help continue our great tradition of success and accomplishment.

DraftExpress: Same question, about Ricky Rubio?

Juan Carlos Navarro: Ricky is also a great talent. He has very long arms and he is great at anticipating passes which makes him so great at getting steals. I think that he has a tremendous amount of potential and I am very interested to see how he develops in the next couple of years.

DraftExpress: Who are the toughest defenders to play against in both ACB and Euroleague?

Juan Carlos Navarro: Both in the Euroleague and in the ACB I am generally guarded by the teams best defender, trying to get me out of my rhythm so everyone I play against is always playing tough defense. But if I had to say someone in the Euroleague I would probably say that the best defenders that I have played against are JR Holden of CSKA and Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos. They are very smart defenders. When it comes to the ACB, a lot of the teams will center their defense around me so I may end up being defended by 2 players sometimes or the whole zone defense is based on making it difficult for me to get my shots. It’s a team effort and there are a lot of great defenders in the ACB.

DraftExpress would like to thank Juan Carlos Navarro sincerely for his time.

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