August 26, 2009
It's the news we've been waiting for ever since that floppy-haired kid to the right put on a black Timberwolves' hat: Ricky Rubio(notes), Minnesota's fifth pick in this year's NBA Draft, has allegedly agreed to terms on a contract with — oh, you have got to be kidding me! — Regal Barcelona? What?
The Spanish team will pay a buyout of 3.7 million Euros, approximately $5.3 million, to Rubio's previous team, Joventut.
Rubio will sign a six-year agreement that contains an affordable buyout in 2011.
If the report is true, that $5.3 million buyout will become the most expensive European basketball transfer in history. And while there's no word on just how much Barcelona will pay Rubio, Tom Ziller at FanHouse predicts it will be more than the rookie scale contract Rubes would have earned with Minny — $5.6 million over two years. Sounds right.
Fear not Wolves fans; you were prepared for this. Or at least you should've been.
While I've been telling people I thought Rubio's odds of ending up in Minnesota this year were above 50 percent, I never would have put them much higher. Sure, it's disappointing that Ricky won't be donning a Wolves uniform for two years. But there is an upside:
1) No point guard controversy (for now). Jonny Flynn(notes) will be handed the on-court reins as a rookie. There will be plenty of bumps in the road, but the kid has a fiery game and has shown both a desire and ability to lead. Let's see what he can do.
2) Now that the biggest roster question has been answered, the Wolves can turn their attention to the rest of it. That means they'll likely 'do something with' Chucky Atkins(notes) and Mark Blount(notes) (read: waive goodbye). They'd have space to bring on some minimum salary players to either develop or provide experience (almost makes you wish we'd re-signed Kevin Ollie(notes). Almost.) Plus, they still have to make decisions on team options for Corey Brewer(notes) and Oleksiy Pecherov(notes).
3) Kurt Rambis now has a much clearer picture of what pieces he's dealing with and what his rotations will look like. There's been a lot of roster turnover on this team in the last few years, so the sooner a system is in place, the sooner players can develop chemistry under a new head coach.
Having Rubio in Minny this year would've been great, especially since some big questions can't be answered for two years. But there should be no head hanging over today's news. Rubio came to us as a gift-wrapped surprise and no doubt David Kahn and Co. have contingency plans accordingly. Plenty can happen to a boy/man in two years (injury, slow development, turns out he stinks), but there's no reason to panic.
Update No. 2: Wolves GM David Kahn echoes Woj's sources: "Based on the information I have attained today, no team in any league has reached a deal with DKV Joventut concerning Ricky's buyout, which must be accomplished before Ricky is released from his contract with DKV Joventut."