Optimism actually surrounds Minnesota Timberwolves this off-season

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40 games into the 2011-2012 NBA season and the Minnesota Timberwolves were actually competing for a Western Conference playoff spot.  An injury to Ricky Rubio derailed the T-Wolves surprising start to the season but proved that there is reason for optimism in Minnesota and that the team doesn’t need to make any drastic moves this off-season.  Still, a few upgrades could help them get back into post-season next year.

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Rubio Staying in Spain

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by: David Kay

Timberwolves general manager David Kahn can finally stop racking up all those frequent flyer miles.  After months of trying to figure out a way for Ricky Rubio to play for Minnesota this season, the negotiations and trips overseas to Spain have gone for naught.  Monday night, Yahoo! Sports reported the Spanish sensation’s rights were traded from DKV Joventut to FC Barcelona, meaning Rubio will likely not be coming to the NBA until the summer of 2011 when his contract doesn’t require a buyout for him to head to the U.S.

Financially, Rubio just didn’t have the means to buy himself out of the $8.11 million remaining on his contract.  Kahn just ventured to Spain for a third time this summer to try and work out a way to lower the buyout, something that DKV Joventut was reportedly receptive to doing.  But in the end, a deal could not be resolved, thus putting off Rubio’s dream of playing in the NBA and adding to Kahn’s already dubious reputation as an NBA GM.rubiostern

This puts the finishing touches on what has been a disastrous off-season for the T-Wolves.  They ultimately turned Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith, Mark Madsen, and five draft picks into Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington, Darius Songaila, Oleksy Pecherov, Mark Blount, Damien Wilkins, Chucky Atkins, the possibility of Ricky Rubio playing for them in 2011, and a little bit of cap space for next off-season.  Even Grizzlies’ general manager Chris Wallace is laughing right now.

This leaves Minnesota with quite the conundrum.  Does Kahn sit on Rubio’s rights for the next two years, hoping that the 18-year playmaker will come to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to play for the T-Wolves, or does Kahn try to trade his rights to gain assets that will help the franchise’s re-building process right away?

Kahn obviously knew that there was a possibility that Rubio wouldn’t be playing in a Timberwolves uniform this season and has been quoted as saying that the team is willing to wait for Rubio.  Barring a ridiculous offer from another team, I cannot see his rights being traded.  Then again, this is David Kahn we’re talking about so anything is possible.

It is also no secret that Rubio has not been overly-excited about beginning his NBA career in Minnesota.  Playing two more years in Spain will only increase the likelihood of Rubio demanding a trade to a bigger market where he can rake in more cash off endorsements or threaten to remain overseas until Kahn finally gives in.

If there’s any positive that comes out of this situation, at least the Wolves will land one of the top picks in the 2010 NBA Draft and can hopefully add another young player to develop so when/if Rubio does call Minnesota home, the franchise will be ready to turn things around.