Face It, Rubio Doesn’t Want to Play for T-Wolves

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By: David Kay

Timberwolves general manager David Kahn didn’t just throw Ricky Rubio under the bus.  He slammed his head in the bus door a few times, drove over Rubio, shifted to reverse, ran him over again, leaned out the window to spit on him, then floored the bus over him again.  This continually developing story should be as interesting to follow as the Brett Favre/Packers circus of the summer of 2008.

12 hours after it was reported that the fifth overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft would be staying in Spain, Kahn came out and tried to save face in hopes of limiting the amount of backlash he would receive for not getting Rubio in a T-Wolves jersey this up-coming season.  Kahn released a statement Monday morning stating that a buy out was reached between Rubio and his Spanish team DKV Joventut, that would allow the 18-year old to come to the NBA.  Instead, Rubio backed out of the deal, deciding that he would be better served staying home and playing two years for FC Barcelona.  In other words, Kahn is saying, “I did all I could to get this kid in a T-Wolves jersey this season, but this punk doesn’t want to play for us.”

Rubio also released a brief statement: “The reason leading me to take this next step is to have a period of preparation to better take the challenge of the NBA in better conditions as a player. The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to be my first option and I wish to play with them in the near future.”

I’m not buying that for a minute Ricky.  If it were the Knicks or Clippers that drafted you and had worked out a reasonable buy out from your Spanish team, you would be playing in the NBA this season.  But since you ended up in a less-than-desirable market by your standards, you suddenly felt you needed more time to season your game overseas.

rubiosternAt no time during the draft process was there any talk of Rubio not being “NBA-ready.”  He had been playing in one of the toughest European leagues since he was 14-years old and flashed signs of his ability against the world’s best in the 2008 Summer Olympics.  There were questions about his transitioning to the more physical NBA game, but how is spending two more years in Spain going to better prepare you for the physicality of the Association?

I’m starting to think Rubio will never play for the Timberwolves.  Kahn keeps saying he is willing to wait for the summer of 2011 when Rubio has the option to leave Barcelona without having to pay any buy out.  Rubio claims he is still committed to play for Minnesota.  But if that is indeed still his “first option” then why wait?  It just doesn’t make any sense.

Barring a miraculous turnaround in Minnesota, I don’t see this ending well for Kahn and company.  The possibility of dealing Rubio’s rights for some pieces to help their re-building may be the best option at this point and save us all from the soap opera that will assuredly continue during the next two years.  Otherwise, we will be forced to suffer through the same situation in two years with Rubio reluctant to call the Twin Cities “home.”

Kahn wrote in his statement, “I wished Ricky well and told him that, while I could not predict the future, I expected to see him in Minnesota soon.”  Don’t hold your breath Mr. Kahn.  Just keep driving the bus.

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Comments

  1. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I understand the big market argument, and probably agree with it, but if I could play devil’s advocate for a second:

    Is it really that surprising that an 18-year old kid, who has grown up, lived, and played in Spain his entire life, decided after months of thought that he isn’t 100% sure he wants to uproot his life, probably leave his family and friends, and move to the US? He’s still a kid, and having friends around (especially ones who can speak your language) is important. I could see this happening whether he was drafted by Minnesota or New York.

    That’s a huge transition for anyone, and it’s very plausible that such a switch just seemed too daunting for the kid when it was staring him in the face.

  2. It was indeed the action you described in your first paragraph, David. Nicely done. Repeated lashings. Weapon=bus. It shows Kahn is truly angry about this. That would be my reaction if I were truly angry. Balsy move, Kahn, balsy. Balsy in the sense that he’s almost so angry that he’s ready to take verbal pot shots at Rubio and doesn’t give a rat’s behind about the consequences. Say too much and Rubio REALLY won’t EVER considering coming to MN. I mean EVER.

  3. Peter Christian says

    If this wasn’t a “Minnesota’s too cold” then it was a “I don’t want to play with that team” issue. The only other option was that Rubio was completely unimpressed with Kahn and didn’t believe in his pitch (completely plausible by the way). If it wasn’t any of those things, why did he even enter the draft? Why even go through the charade of working out for certain teams? Rubio can claim he is staying in Spain to better prepare for the NBA, but he is staying for two reasons: he doesn’t want to be a part of Kahn’s plans in Minnesota and he is getting absolutely terrible advice from his family and agents.

  4. Well, it looks like you’ve chosen your opinion and you’re not going to let any facts get in the way!! Do you have any clue what the buyout agreement entailed? Did you know that the buyout agreement that the Wolves and Rubio’s team agreed to still left Rubio on the hook for a large sum? Could it be that once Rubio fell out of the top three he was going to be responsible to personally pay at minimum $3-5 million of his buyout and that was a tad tough to swallow??! It had nothing to do with playing experience. It’s all about the money and with the allotted salary at the five spot in the draft the numbers just didn’t crunch!!

  5. So are you trying to suggest that Ricky entered the draft too early? and thought he was going to be picked 2nd or 3rd? I’m not sure I can agree with that.

    I would have to agree with Pete that Rubio is getting horrible advice from those closest to him

  6. I think everyone who saw the Gold Medal game in the Olympics knows that Rubio is ready.

  7. Facts? what are facts?

    Greg- I fully understand the buy out… thanks for re-iterating it to me. If that was the reasoning, then Rubio should have straight out said so. In these times, everybody would have understood his financial bind… but he didn’t say he wasn’t coming to the NBA because of $$$, he said because he wants to season his game in Spain… I think that’s BS…

    Shaymus- I understand what you’re saying, bu Rubio said all along that it’s his “dream” to play in the NBA. It could have been become a reality, but he passed on it… maybe he got cold feet, more than likely in my opinion, he just doesn’t want to play for the Timberwolves… We won’t find out for a couple years if I’m right, but it’s my current opinion

  8. What type of fantasy world do you live in where every sports figure should always be 100% honest and consistently truthful to the media??! I don’t believe his statements either but it sure sounds better to come out and claim he wants to improve his game before making the move than to make it all about money.

    Again, that “reasonable buy out” you refer to costs Rubio around $5million. Easy for you to say “reasonable”.

  9. “reasonable” compared to what the buy out originally was? yes. If Rubio knew he wasn’t going to pay the buy out then why lead Kahn on to believe that if the amount was lessened, he would come to the T-Wolves? I understand money may have played a factor, but the fact is Rubio does not want to play for Minnesota… and most likely will get his way at some point down the line… I’m not the only one with this opinion

    Chad Ford’s tweet: “I’m not a Kahn hater but what a mess. His only way to salvage? Be patient, let Ricky become a star & trade him for a star in 2011”

    This “fantasy world” I live doesn’t say every sports figure should be 100% honest… I love Brett Favre and lord knows he’s not 100% honest… I’m just saying no fan is going to blame Rubio for not coming to Minnesota because he cannot afford to and saying exactly that… but now T-Wolves fans are starting to grow angry with Rubio’s selfishness… If you really think it’s ALL about the money and has nothing to do with him not wanting to come to Minnesota, I’m going to continue to disagree with you…

    by the way Greg, are you pro-Rubio or pro-Kahn in this drama?

  10. Greg- found this passage from this article on ESPN… worth a read if you haven’t already… http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-44-2/Ricky-Rubio-in-Barcelona–the-Timberwolves-in-the-Cold.html

    “You see those numbers up there? The amount he’d make in the NBA is much more than the buyout Barcelona will pay Joventut. I would need an army of international tax lawyers to confirm this (is his Spanish buyout an untaxed business expense that counts against his U.S. income?), but presumably, we can conclude that even after taxes Rubio would have had income playing in the NBA, even before endorsement income was considered.”

  11. Yes Greg, if you had to pick a side in this- Kahn or Rubio?

  12. Careful in passing your “opinion” off as “fact” in back to back sentences. Actually, the fact is that Rubio said he wants to play in MN. Now he may be telling the truth or he may be reading a quote that Kahn wrote for him in an attempt to up his trade value. Who knows?

    The other fact that you and that report seem to dismiss is who is responsible for that $5mill. If Rubio stays in Barcelona, he doesn’t pay a dime of that buyout while earning a salary. If he chooses the NBA, he pays over $4.5mil out of his own pocket. Granted his salary would be higher than in Barcelona but that may be something an 18 year old doesn’t want to take on.

    As far as which side I take in this, I choose neither as I think both Kahn and Rubio have made some horrible decisions. I think Rubio was foolish to declare for the draft if he wasn’t prepared for every outcome (team, city, pick#, salary, buyout amount,…). On the other hand, Kahn took a big gamble and lost! This has hurt his reputation and also makes it seem as though the Wolves’ organization is as lost as ever even with new management. There is no way you can justify taking a teenager with so many question marks at such a high pick when you have so many weaknesses on your team. Personally, I think he should have taken Flynn and then complimented him with a Curry-type off guard. The other option would have been to trade the pick to a team that wants Rubio so badly they’re willing to deal with his baggage. Either way, you’re a better team starting the 09-10 season!

  13. Greg, you rock! Please stop by and post your commentary more often

  14. Will do, Paul. Thanks. Just stumbled on to your site and am always in need of a Midwest sports fix!

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