Jun 2, 2011, 3:37 AM EDT
Ricky Rubio is going to be the Minnesota Timberwolves point guard next season. Well, providing there is a next season.
Multiple sources are now reporting that Rubio, the 20-year-old Spanish phenom point guard drafted by the Timberwolves two years ago, has reached a deal to play in the NBA. That means he and Minnesota will pay a $1.2 million buyout of his deal with Barcelona (the Timberwolves can only pay $500,000 of that).
The interesting thing is he agreed to terms based on the rookie scale under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. That means Rubio will take a pay cut to come to the NBA and is locked into that scale for years. (Tiago Splitter waited out what would have been the first years of his rookie deal and came over at a higher salary. That seemed his path, but he must have feared what could come with a new CBA more than he did the current deal.)
If there is a lockout that stretches into the season, Rubio could continue to play for Barcelona until he had to come stateside, according to the reports.
A couple years ago Rubio was maybe the most talked about young player on the planet. He held his own against Team USA in the Olympic Gold Medal game, when he was just 18. He has a great feel for the game and can be an amazing passer. But his shot needs a lot of work. A lot. Still, Rubio’s feel for the game paired with Kevin Love could be the cornerstone of a very good Minnesota team down the line.
This signing raises two questions: One is how does Rubio fit in with an already full backcourt that includes Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn? Rubio presumably is the starter, but he shot less than 20 percent from three in EuroLeague and struggled shooting in general. If you thought teams sagged of Rajon Rondo, wait to see how Rubio is treated at first, until he proves he can shoot. Does Ridnour or Flynn get moved?
The other question is what does this mean for coach Kurt Rambis. He runs a modified version of the triangle offense, one that does not require a strong ball handling point guard. In fact, the point guard basically needs to defend and knock down the three. Rubio is a playmaker better suited to the open court. How is he going to mesh with Rambis, or is Rambis not going to go.