Minnesota Timberwolves first round draft pick of 2009 Ricky Rubio will not be playing for the Wolves this year, or even next for that matter. The Wolves drafted the coveted Spanish 18 year old star with pick #5 this past June, but contract obligations and other drama will prevent the point guard from gearing up in NBA apparel for at least two more seasons.
The first obstacle was the buy out of his contract from his Spanish team DKV Joventut. The buyout clause was set at the ridiculous amount of $8.1 million dollars. This buyout wouldn't mean the Timberwolves signed him to a contract, it just means that they paid $8.1 million to get him out of his old deal. That is a larger problem than just money and Wolves president David Kahn tried to negotiate that price down but that was next to impossible seeing as the NBA prohibits it's teams from contributing more that 500k for a buyout. Hmmm....the difference between $8.1 million and 500k...I wonder how close that negotiation came. I bet they were as close as Frank the Tank convincing his wife and a car full of her friends that he was the leader of a pack of streaking college students. (Do you think KFC is still open?)
Despite the Wolves effort to sign Ricky (Kahn flew to Spain 3 times) the 18 year old superstar ended the standoff by simply backing out of the deal, and his decision to play in the NBA. Rubio said that he wanted to stay in Spain developing his game more while finishing out the last two years on his contract with DKV (no buyout clause for us equals good).
Reports now state that Ricky didn't just screw one crappy NBA team (the Wolves, duh) but also his Spanish team DKV Joventut. DKV reluctantly agreed to trade Rubio after he requested a trade to their rival Regal FC Barcelona for a European League record buyout price of $5.3 million dollars. The kid is 18 and he has already given 2 professional teams the run around. Sounds similar to another star diva player going from the Packers to his rival.
Don't fret Wolves fans because our hometown team drafted another potentially game changing point guard in the likes of Jonny Flynn from Syracuse. Flynn was dynamite in college, and has impressed in the Vegas summer leagues. President Kahn went on to say, "I explained to [Rubio] that I can't predict the future. I did specifically mention that Jonny would be two years ahead of him. He understood that."
So the despite the seeming loss of a young player some have called the most exciting point guard to enter the draft in years the Wolves could still come out very much on top with this draft. Best case scenario is Flynn turns out to be the point guard we needed and fills that hole in our lineup making Rubio not even needed in 2 years. What does that hold for the Wolves in exchange? Trades for players or draft picks. And if Rubio continues to impress in Spain his value can go no where but up.
This years roster will feature a lot of new faces and the absence of others. Notable players gone from last years roster are : Mike Miller, Randy Foye, and Sebastian Telfair.
New faces include two of our three first round draft picks Flynn and Wayne Ellington. Others include: Ryan Hollis, Darius Songalia, Chucky Atkins, and Bobby Brown.
I found this little nugget of information about a very short tenured Timberwolves player very amusing.
Quentin Richardson spent the last four seasons with the New York Knicks and now has been traded four times in less than two months: to Memphis on draft night, then to the Los Angeles Clippers, then to Minnesota and now to Miami.
The un-amusing part about the above article is the fact the Wolves gained the services of Mark Blount for Richardson. Blount has played for the Wolves in the past having limited success when playing down low. Granted the team we that surrounded Blount sucked to boot; it was hard to watch that lanky big man play sometimes. Especially after watching Kevin for so long. Is Blount worth the trouble? We will wait and see.
Another thought is Al Jefferson and his hopefully surgically repaired knee being ready to dominate again. Big Al is obviously a player any team would built its future around. Al isn't really a guy who needs superior athleticism to dominate the block. He has his own unconventional but very fundamental game that should not be hampered even by a recovering knee. 100% out of Big Al and Kevin Love gives fans something to at least look forward to.
No, probably not victories. I'm talking about domination in the post, rebounds, blocks, and dunks! Love should come through nicely with a year of experience and bulking up. Big Al plus Love equals entertainment.
No Ricky this year, but I can see a very distinct nucleus forming in the Timberwolves front line. Maybe Flynn and Ellington fill out and the Wolves could be a team similar to an upstart Trailblazers a couple seasons back. Not to mention on the horizon is a player like Rubio or the prospect of a lucrative trade gaining the Wolves more firepower.
Not to mention a coach not named McHale. Kurt Rambis was the understudy of the greatest basketball coach of all time.
The new regime of the Wolves begins this year.