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/Vikings circus of the summer of 2009.
Twelve 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 upcoming season.
Kahn released a statement Monday morning stating that a buyout 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 buyout 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.
At 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 him 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 buyout. 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.
Ricky Rubio Staying in Spain
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.
This puts the finishing touches on what has been a disastrous offseason 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 offseason. 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-old 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.