Mandatory Rubio Allotment
David Kahn is currently in Spain doing God knows what to convince DKV to free Rubio. For that to happen they'll need to lower their buyout demands. I continue to predict, as I have all along, that Ricky Rubio will play for the Timberwolves this season. I base this prediction on info I've pulled from various sources that has successfully passed my common sense filter. A week or so ago Chad Ford (ESPN toolbox/douche bag hybrid) had to swallow his pride and go back on all of his erroneous 'Rubio wants to play in New York' reporting and break the verified news that Rubio's camp has no problem whatsoever playing in Minnesota. In fact, they were very open to the idea. The problem from the beginning was that when Rubio fell to #5 he lost out on contract money that would have helped with the buyout.
The course of events over the past two weeks has made it look increasingly clear that Rubio is on his way. First, Dan Fegan, Rubio's agent, flew to Las Vegas to meet with Kahn and Glen Taylor. Then Kahn announced he was flying to Spain to meet with Rubio and his people. Then Rubio dropped his lawsuit against his Spainish team, DKV (this was a stipulation before they would agree to negotiate his buyout). You could even look at today's trade of Sebastian Telfair as further evidence the Timberwolves are clearing a path for the kid's arrival.
The word is Kahn went to Spain loaded with creative "solutions" in order to accelerate the process. One such solution is the Timberwolves organization becoming long term business affiliates with DKV. This would be in the form of publicity, annual scrimmages, off-season camps and other money generating arrangements. In theory, this partnership would effectively be worth a few million dollars and placate DKV enough to lower Rubio's buyout and at the same time get by the NBA's limit on buyout money, which is a measley $500,000. Now before visions of Joe Smith dance into your head, rest assured that this is totally legal and has been done before. The Houston Rockets, for example, poured all sorts of money into Yao Ming's Chinese team in a similar fashion.
One theory I like is centered around the drafting of 2nd round pick, Henk Norel. Who, you ask? Exactly. He's some marginal talent who shockingly no draft expert had going in the actual draft this year. Yet the Wolves mysteriously took him in the 2nd round. During the McHale era one could have simply shrugged this off as another McHale blunder but what we're coming to realize in the current era is that Kahn actually plots and schemes and plans stuff out in advance. A novel concept. Norel happens to also play for DKV and is a good friend of Rubio. Not only could the prospect of playing with a friend ease the transition to the NBA for an 18 year old kid but the Wolves could also buyout Norel for the max $500,000 although he's probably worth more like $500. That way DKV gets a cool million towards the buyout effort even though the money technically came from two different buyouts. Stay tuned.
Still ongoing. Rumors have the pool down to former point guard and current analyst, Mark Jackson (makes sense because of his connections to Kahn when they were both with Indiana and hiring a former PG to mentor Rubio and Flynn would be ideal), current Rockets assistant Elston Turner who is partially credited for Houston's potent offense, and current Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis (check it - http://thesportshernia.typepad.com/
Four relevant players partook in this year's Summer League for the Wolves, Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington, Corey Brewer and Oleksy Pecherov. Flynn was incredible. Faster than anyone on the court. Great vision. Under the Foye/Cassell years at PG I forgot how awesome a true point guard is. They put a mic on him one game and the rumors of his oncourt leadership appear to be completely true. Most impressively, he not only got to the rim at will but also displayed the strength to take contact and finish. His physical appearance and movement on the court reminds me of Chris Paul. Wayne Ellington was shakey to start but calmed down and did exactly what the Wolves need him to do: score. He can flat out shoot and I saw him getting a lot of praise from league execs in interviews. Brewer was a trainwreck in three of the games, didn't play in one and looked really good in the finale. It was his first basketball since tearing his ACL so you've got to cut him some slack, but he showed enougn to confirm my suspicions: the team won't be able to count on him for anything heading into this year. Anything they get from Brewer will be a bonus. Pecherov is a legit 7 footer with a legit 3 point shot. I don't know if he's much of a post player but he can definitely shoot and that should be a nice compliment to the down low games of Jefferson and Love.
Other Summer League news: Blake Griffin was a manchild. Simply dominant. Brandon Jennings was better than expected. Tyreke Evans was a mini-Blake Griffin. Stephen Curry averaged 33 minutes a game and shot 33% from the field. Yikes. Hasheem Thabeet was every bit as akward and weak as his detractors predicted he would be. James Harden was forgettable. Non rookie, Anthony Randolph (27 PPG, 9 REBS, 3 BLKS) was freakishly good. Calm yourself, Randy Foye won Vegas Summer League MVP one year.
By all reports he is well ahead of schedule and expected to be fully ready to go at the start of training camp.
As you've probably heard, the Wolves traded Craig Smith, Sebastian Telfair and Mark Madsen to the Clippers for Quentin Richardson. In terms of cap room, the Wolves won. In terms of likability, the Clippers won in a landslide. This move is all about money. The Wolves will shave another 3 million off their total salary next, making them a stronger player in free agency. Reports that the Wolve have found their future shooting guard with this trade are dead wrong. He'll get minutes because by default they only have one other 2 guard on roster but I'll be stunned if he survives on this team past the trade deadline. Q-Rich Fun Fact: Over the last month he has been traded three times (New York to Memphis, Memphis to LA, LA to Minnesota).
On the real, Smith, Telfair and Mad Dog are by all accounts cool guys. Telfair, in particular, seems like grounded person and I believe will have a long career in the NBA. I hope to see Madsen on the bench wearing a suit as an assistant the second he retires. As a fan, I appreciate their time on this team.