By Andy Weise
Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn has remained plenty busy this summer with the Wolves and it seems like he has one final thing to do: solve the Ricky Rubio buyout. Sources close to the Wolves and thesportsbank.net believe the chances of Rubio playing in Minnesota continue to increase by the day. With Kahn in Spain this week, a deal appears to be nearing completion and the announcement could be coming soon.
We’ve all seen the numbers plenty of times and we all know the NBA rule a team can only contribute $500k towards the buyout, but Kahn continues to give hope to Wolves fans with his nonstop tinkering to a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004. That hope rests largely in the No. 5 overall pick in the NBA draft, 18-year-old Spanish guard Ricky Rubio.
Kahn has visited Spain a handful of times according to sources, and pictures did appear on the Internet after one of his visits with both him and Rubio together, appearing to be enjoying themselves. While the east-coast media has continually fueled speculation that Kahn will ship Rubio to his former boss’ (Donnie Walsh) new team, the New York Knicks, common sense would say the Knicks do not have the pieces and the Wolves are desperate to attract attention that would turn into ticket sales.
It’s very hard to say how much Rubio would contribute this year if he does in fact join the Wolves. He will likely be competing with the Wolves’ other rookie point guard Jonny Flynn for playing time but because Rubio is only 18 going on 19, most players his age are stuck in college playing out their freshman seasons. Rubio’s potential might be only rivaled by Blake Griffin in the 2009 draft and that was the reason the Wolves were offered numerous trades, including one from Houston that included Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks.
One possible delay for any Rubio announcement would be the news of Brett Favre signing with the Minnesota Vikings this week. The Vikings have grabbed all the national headlines and if Rubio does announce that he is coming to Minnesota, the Timberwolves likely will steal some national attention even now, a few months before the season begins.
Rest assured, Kahn and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor know the advantages of having Rubio on the team this year will likely cut into the deficit the franchise has had the last few years. With Rubio and Flynn joining franchise cornerstones Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, the Wolves begin to look like an up-and-coming organization. It won’t hurt that the team could have over $20 million in cap space this summer. Kahn also didn’t hurt the Wolves when he hired Lakers top assistant Kurt Rambis.