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Ricky Rubio reaches deal to play for Minnesota. Finally.

Jun 2, 2011, 3:37 AM EDT

Spain v USA Getty Images

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.

  1. bittersonicsfan - Jun 2, 2011 at 6:12 AM


    • jd - Jun 2, 2011 at 9:30 AM

      Ru-Fi-O! Ru-Fi-O!

      • denverhoopdreams - Jun 2, 2011 at 11:30 AM

        Please tell me this is going to be the chant they use in Minnesota. Hahaha.

  2. philosofly - Jun 2, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    I love all the Rambis speculation that seems to get circulated with this story. There is speculation, then there are facts. Here are the facts:

    Rambis is NOT going anywhere. Kurt Rambis and K-Love had a heart-to-heart after this season, there is a mutual respect there despite all the speculation. The heart-to-heart resulted in Rambis agreeing to modify his system to fit the T-wolves players next season. Just because Rambis has had Love on the bench before, doesn’t mean it wasn’t for the better of the team. As with any player who has potential and is young, K-Love had some things to learn. Rambis got through to him, clearly. That, in my opinion, makes Rambis a GREAT coach. Not every coach starts out with a rosy record, so the media can chew on Rambis’ canning all they want but Rambis will be a great coach in this league. The Timberwolves recognize this and it’s the impatient media and ignorant fans who are putting pressure on them to win now.

    When the Timberwolves signed Rambis, there was a mutual understanding they would be a bottom feeder for two to four years. So far, they have given Rambis only two of those potential four years. It’s been a rocky road, but it can only get better from here. There is not a better coach available (maybe Jeff Van Gundy) and when you do bring in a new coach there is usually a roster shake-up to follow. Do you see that in the T-wolves future? I sure as hell don’t. The Timberwolves biggest problem is the post KG era has been the lack of consistency at the head coaching position. It’s time to be consistent.

    The Timberwolves are not going to can Rambis. Worst case scenario they give Rambis until the All-Star break (if there is a season next year) to see if they have at least improved upon this past season’s mark. With the lockout looming, there is no other card to play. The T-wolves are bleeding money like the New York Mets right now so I do not see them making an impulse buy on a new coach while still paying Rambis. It makes zero financial sense and Glen Taylor (T-wolves owner) is a very, very savvy businessman.

    Kurt Rambis is a Minnesota Timberwolf and as an avid fan, I’d love to have him here in Minneapolis. He’s a blue collar, hard working coach who fits the Minnesota mold. He’s going to be one of the best coaches of the next generation as we watch him take this group of K-Love, Beasley, Rubio, Anthony Randolph and hopefully Wes Johnson (if he shoots 2,000 shots a day the entire offseason and continues to work with Kobe in L.A.) into the future. That core right there is young, VERY young. No GM and certainly no intelligent fan is going to expect a team that young to be able to close out games. The T-wolves were very, very competitive against a lot of top talent teams this past season (I should know, I saw all but 14 games of theirs this year) but couldn’t find a way to close them out. They are the next OKC in the league. Those names will be household names in a season or two (Love, Rubio and Beasley already are).

    So, get the facts straight and end the speculation. Kurt Rambis shows up for work everyday. He works hard and he is the right man for the job. There will be some triangle run, there will be a lot more pick n roll too though. This is going to be a hybrid system for tomorrow’s NBA. It’s going to be fun, exciting and worth watching (did you watch the T-wolves this past year? The most exciting basketball we’ve had here in MN since KG was here!!).

    • philosofly - Jun 2, 2011 at 6:59 AM

      Oops, I guess you can’t delete a double post. Oh well.

    • jmoney1289 - Jun 2, 2011 at 3:07 PM

      I don’t think it’s as cut & dried as you think, although I suspect he’ll be back based on financial consideration. I also think the fact that Rambis needs to modify his system speaks volumes as to the results of the last two seasons, and there was NEVER a mutual understanding that they would be bottom-feeders for 2-4 years. Two years, tops. The Wolves weren’t in too much of a different place than the Thunder a couple years ago (granted, they don’t have Durant). That’s why I think if the Wolves don’t show dramatic improvement before next season ends that Rambis will be finished, and rightfully so. Rambis might be a nice guy and a hard-worker, but I think he’s failed to light a fire under these young players. It’s funny watching him on the sidelines…he’s a Phil Jackson clone! He has all the mannerisms, movements and demeanor of Jackson, inciuding being really laid-back, which is OK for a veteran team like the Lakers, but I don’t see it working for the Wolves. Actually. if I had my choice I’d like to see Kahn go first.

      • philosofly - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:47 AM

        Ah, but there was an understanding they would be terrible. It was even made public, I’m not going to banter about the time frame. Rambis has failed to light a fire under these young players? What are you smokin’? Lack of wins does not translate into lack of fire. K-Love has had a fire lit under his ass (31-31, double-double streak, All Star), Beasley showed great natural scoring ability but has to work on consistency and Anthony Randolph played with more heart than anyone could expect from someone playing on a team that had no chance to make the playoffs. What the team lacks is consistency (they are young) not desire or fire. C’mon man!

        Are you trying to poke fun at one of the greatest coaches the NBA has ever seen in Phil Jackson? Newsflash, there was a time when even Phil wasn’t a big enough name to work with a veteran team that included names like Bryant, Jordan, Pippen, Gasol, Shaq, etc. At one time he was the coach of a very young, but talented Chicago Bulls team. The method works, even with a young team. A young team needs time to develop leadership skills on the court. We made a small step with K-Love in that aspect this past season, his energy is contagious. We can thank Rambis for K-Love’s accomplishments as much as we can thank K-Love for putting the time, heart and effort in night in and night out.

        As far as Kahn goes, what has he done that makes you want to see him go? You can’t can a GM before you give him and his choice head coach time to get the players they want on the floor. We haven’t even seen Kahn’s biggest pick in Rubio with the team yet! Seriously, your impatience baffles me. It’s impatience that takes a great young core and breaks it up. Then, down the line, you’ll be sorry thinking “I wish we still had them all together”.

        Give it a break man.

  3. Gordon - Jun 2, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Less than 20% from 3-point range?!!! That is awful! He better be like Jason Kidd at distributing the ball if he wants to get away with being an awful shooter.

    • florida727 - Jun 2, 2011 at 1:31 PM

      Have seen him play numerous times. He’s FAR better than Jason Kidd at distributing the ball, and he’ll prove it once he comes here. But his shot is borderline pathetic. If it’s true that MN will run the triangle, this actually isn’t a very good fit for him. If they uptempo in the mode of PHX, this kid will be a perennial all-star, no doubt.

      • jmoney1289 - Jun 2, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        Seriously? Better than Kidd? Based on what…limited minutes in Spain? This is the NBA, and a point guard that can’t shoot is toast unless he is exceptionally quick & Rubio has quick hands, but not quick feet. He’s a little slow and can not jump. I don’t think he is an NBA caliber player. I’m hoping the Wolves trade him before everyone else can see him play in the NBA. Perennial all-star? Not a prayer. Kahn’s drafting of Rubio and Flynn with two high picks may ultimately bring an end to Minnesota NBA ball. Hello, Seattle…?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 2, 2011 at 2:28 PM

        Not trying to be rude, but how old are you? Do you not remember Jason Kidd in his prime? He drug those Nets teams to the finals with his play making. I’ve seen Rubio play too. He is terrible. He is slow, can’t shoot, and is not all that athletic. He got a bunch of hype because of how good he was when he was 16 and it was deserved. Problem is everybody else caught up and surpassed him. If you can’t shoot you better be able to get to the rim like Rondo can or else there won’t be any passing lanes because the defender will be right up on him.

      • Justin - Jun 2, 2011 at 2:45 PM

        I like how you insult a previous poster for saying he is better than Kidd because he based his assumptions off “limited minutes in Spain” but then went on to tell why he will fail in this league based upon, what I can only assume, is what you have seen in his “limited minutes in Spain.” Can’t have it both ways.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 2, 2011 at 8:28 PM

        I wasn’t insulting the previous poster. It is a legitimate question. If you are young and only remember Jason Kidd from his days with Dallas (2nd time around), then you would have no idea how good he actually was. Then maybe, maybe the comparison would be fair. But if anybody is trying to say that Rubio is as good a PG as Kidd in his prime, then that is ridiculous. I am basing my thoughts on Rubio on what I have seen from him.

      • Justin - Jun 2, 2011 at 11:15 PM

        I was talking about jmoney1289 not you drmonkeyarmy. I am not gonna get into my predictions for him and why I think that way. Mainly, I just say we drafted him and I just want to know what he will become so we can keep him or move on.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 2, 2011 at 11:53 PM

        Oh, my apologies to you then.

  4. smitheye - Jun 2, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Baha you’re worried about Flynn? He’s the worst player in the NBA.. He’ll get cut for sure

  5. dirtydavis - Jun 2, 2011 at 12:54 PM


  6. bobulated - Jun 2, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    He’s not going to be the next Pistol shooting like that.

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