Rubio was drafted by the Timberwolves back in 2009, in a move that never seemed like a good idea. It was a stretch even then, with Rubio's stock at an all-time high, that the Spanish point guard would come to the NBA at such a young age. And when you throw in the rebuilding process the Timberwolves were under, and the (I'm sorry) less-than-marquee setting of Minnesota home games (in relative terms, to a kid thinking of New York or Los Angeles), it's no surprise that nearly two years later the Timberwolves are no closer to bringing Rubio over.
And a column in Sunday's New York Times isn't helping either side of this mess.
It paints a picture of a struggling youngster who is completely and utterly disinterested in all things NBA, and completely willing (as has been the case for a while) to wait out the three-year rookie scale term that the NBA places on draftees. Come 2012, Rubio could negotiate a deal with the Timberwolves for whatever amount they have under the cap, which would then make it easier for Rubio to put together a sign-and-trade for his services. Because, let's face it, he's never going to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Not that they should want him, anyway.
Though 28 games in the 2010-11 season, Rubio has continued to struggle. He is shooting just 32 percent from the field, including 11 of 61 from beyond the arc, and his team has lost more games in the ACB and in the Euroleague than it did all of last season.
"I try to help the team," Rubio said. "It doesn't matter if you have to score 50 points or zero. If I help the team, I don't think of my stats."
Yeah, you probably should think of your stats. It might stop you from taking over two 3-pointers a game, when you only (on average) make one nearly every three games.
Rubio has long been a strange comp. His passing skills tend to excite, but he shoots in a way that would make even high-assist/poor-shooting point guards like Brevin Knight(notes) or Rajon Rondo(notes) blush. The fear in 2011 is the same that it was in 2009: Rubio can pass, sure, but what's the point when teams are going to play him for the pass, and back off of his terrible shot?
And then there's this:
"The bottom line is, why would he want to play in Minnesota?" a senior member of Rubio's camp said this month. "He'll continue to say all the diplomatic things, and Minnesota needs to keep his value up for trade purposes, but the family's preference is to be on the East Coast, specifically New York, Miami or Boston. He wouldn't be troubled if he has to stay another year."
Which is unfortunate, because Minnesota (as a city, at least, if not a franchise) has so much to offer. And that's not me being diplomatic.
A year and a half later, this is still a terrible move for the Timberwolves. They put themselves, and Rubio, into an awful situation. Youngsters with leverage and a paying gig in a league that they like aren't going to drop everything to nearly work pro bono (because Rubio would have to use his own money in a buyout package just to get out of his international contract) just to chase the NBA dream. And assuming that he was going to give it all up just for the right to play in the NBA was an incredibly naïve (and a little insulting) move by the Timberwolves. These aren't farmboys, wowed by the lights.
- Ricky Rubio