Tuesday , Sep , 01 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Close doesn’t cut it for Minnesota Timberwolves with Ricky Rubio

Minnesota president David Kahn took a risk drafting Rubio fifth overall last June, even though European club DKV Joventut held an $8.0 million option on the point guard’s playing career. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, NBA clubs, like the Timberwolves, can only pay a half million dollars towards an international player’s buyout, while European clubs, like Regal FC Barcelona, can pay any amount …


Close doesn't cut it for Minnesota Timberwolves with Ricky RubioIf you play with fire, you’re bound to get burned.

That’s how the Minnesota Timberwolves likely felt after Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio left them at the alter to sign a six-year contract extension with European club Regal FC Barcelona.

Minnesota president David Kahn took a risk drafting Rubio fifth overall last June, even though European club DKV Joventut held an $8.0 million option on the point guard’s playing career.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, NBA clubs, like the Timberwolves, can only pay a half million dollars towards an international player’s buyout, while European clubs, like Regal FC Barcelona, can pay any amount.

There were other complications: Minnesota is a less desirable market for attracting sponsors and the club took a second point guard, Jonny Flynn, with the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, one spot after Rubio.

Despite these obstacles, Kahn nearly inked the shaggy-haired teenager before he agreed to terms with Regal FC Barcelona. The Timberwolves must now wait two years before Rubio can cross the Atlantic Ocean and play in the frozen tundra of  ‘Sota.

Some will applaud Minnesota for almost landing Rubio. They’ll see the glass as half-full. And they’ll turn the situation into a positive for the Timberwolves.

Nonsense.

Almost, half-full, and moral victories don’t cut it in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately and results orientated NBA. It certainly won’t cut it if Kahn and the Timberwolves genuinely hope to climb out the Western Conference cellar.  

Now things are tricky. Minnesota needs immediate help and, contrary to Kahn’s public relations spin, can’t wait until the 2011-12 season for Rubio. Sure, Flynn, Al Jefferson, and Kevin Love have promise, but they’re a ways off.

A trade would make sense. Unfortunately, dealing Rubio’s rights will be much more difficult today because he’s got a contract.  And most NBA teams won’t want to acquire the headache of negotiating a buyout.

There is still ‘New York, New York’. The Knicks’ priority is to maintain financial flexibility for ‘The Great Free Agent Chase of 2010‘, so they would be open to swapping a current asset, like restricted free agents David Lee and Nate Robinson, for Rubio and deferring the cap hit until 2011.

This isn’t a fit for Minnesota. They’ll have limited interest in Lee, a talented four-man, because the frontcourt is set with young posts like Jefferson and Love, while ‘Kryptonite’s antics could be a negative on a developing team.

Like I said, the Timberwolves played with fire and got burned. And the Rubio saga will get even more complicated.

What happens next with Rubio? Get at me in the comment box below and follow Oly on HoopsVibe and Twitter. Image courtesy of Linux29