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Ricky Rubio rumors: Lockout remains key issue

Mar 29, 2011, 11:40 AM EDT

Ricky Rubio Barcelona Getty Images

You have to admire the unrelenting optimism in Minnesota that Ricky Rubio is going to play with the team next season.

But even that Midwestern, can-do optimism knows limits — the lockout is strangling that hope right out of Wolves fans. Check out this note from the Pioneer Press where — like only in the Enchanted Tiki Room — little birds can talk.

A little birdie says the Timberwolves have received word from Ricky Rubio’s family that he’s open to signing with them for next season — if there is a season.

The NBA’s labor agreement expires June 30, and that’s an issue for Rubio, the Wolves’ 2009 first-round draft pick who could continue playing for FC Barcelona in Spain if there is an NBA lockout. The 6-foot-4 point guard is averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 assists in 45 games this season.

Rubio sounded more hesitant when he spoke recently, saying. “I do have interest in the NBA, but not as in right away…”

You will see a lot of international players in the NBA draft this year because they can get picked but still play in Europe until the owners and players are done trying to kill the league’s popularity.

Rubio is different, however — he has to inform Barcelona of his decision for next season before the lockout would be done (early summer). So he would have to give up his Barcelona money (and rock-star level popularity) for the uncertainty of the NBA, to sit in the United States waiting for cooler heads to prevail. Then find out what he could get paid for whatever is left of the season.

Wolves fans, you may well get Rubio (so long as he keeps paying, the Wolves have his rights). But despite what talking birds tell you, next year is not a smart bet.

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