If given the option, I would have prefered a scenario in which Brett Favre stayed retired and Ricky Rubio ditched Europe to suit up for the Minnesota Timberwolves. But it went the other way and we're forced to put the Rubio dream on hold until an unimaginable time in the future called 2011. That's two full NBA seasons from now. All along this was a likely possibility but the apparent finality of the outcome still stings. Something that really needs to be acknowledged: the Wolves made an offer that was accepted by DKV Joventut, as did Barcelona. Rubio could have gone to either locale. He chose Barcelona. This decision was not at all a result of a lack of effort by David Kahn, Glen Taylor and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Let me also clear up the following...
Yes, absolutely, David Kahn did the right thing when he drafted Rubio with the 5th overall pick in June's draft. You'll hear from a lot of revisionists who don't actually know anything, but that won't stop them from saying how bad of a draft pick it was. First of all, Ricky Rubio is the undisputed #2 pick in the 2009 draft if he doesn't have the buyout situation hanging over him. When he was on the board at #5 the Wolves had to take him. If they would have passed on him with both of their picks they would have been signaling to the league and their fanbase that they weren't really serious about building a contender. They would have been signaling that deep down they, as an organization, don't feel entitled to acquire the top talent in the league and instead those players should be reserved for only the biggest of media markets. They would have been signaling to all the other punk ass kids across the Globe that if you pout and whine and make threats you can basically dictate to the NBA where you play. They would have been emphatically signaling that even though the guy running things was new, business was in fact business as usual for an organization with a built up reputation for letting top talent walk away on draft night. Who else should they have taken? DeMar DeRozan? DeRozan at #6 or Wayne Ellington at #29? I take Ellington as an enormous value ten out of ten times. Terrance Williams and Gerald Henderson would have been debacale picks. The only guy who makes any amount of sense is Stephen Curry but him and Jonny Flynn would have been an even worse defensive combo than Rubio and Flynn. Taking Rubio was a risk. No doubt about it. But it was a risk worth taking, regardless of the outcome.
Yes, trading Randy Foye and Mike Miller for the #5 pick, which became Ricky Rubio, was a good trade. Anyone who thinks Foye and Miller were anything more than roleplayers for the Timberwolves who contributed very little to team wins most likely isn't reading this blog. Trading those two marginal talents for a crack at a potential game changing star was a no brainer.
Jonny Flynn is the forgotten man in all of this. Flynn, the ultra charasmatic pure point guard with Chris Paul-like skills, is a Minnesota Timberwolf. He's the guy who grinned his ass off after getting drafted by the Timberwolves. He's the guy who showed up in Minneapolis the next day for the team press conference and spoke of wanting to be part of building a contender. He's the guy who said he was thrilled to be in Minnesota and looked forward to sharing the backcourt with Rubio. He's the guy who looked like an all-star veteran in the Vegas summer league. Yeah, that guy. Post draft there were just as many "experts" who claimed they would have taken Flynn ahead of Rubio as there were the opposite. All things considered, Flynn could very well turn out to be a much better player than the Spanish Golden Child. Rubio seemingly has all the potential and intangible star power in the world but as things are now, Flynn is faster, stronger, more athletic, more suited for the NBA game, a better defender and a better overall scorer. I'm not trying to blast Rubio now that he has scorned America, only highlight that Flynn is a hell of a player in his own right. He's a natural leader and from all accounts a really solid human being. I, honestly, sincerely, hope he takes the starting point guard spot and never even lets Rubio get a look at it.
Ricky Rubio is playing a very dangerous game. Of course, the game he's playing wouldn't be as dangerous if his primary motivation wasn't getting rich beyond his wildest dreams. If he was staying in Spain because he didn't feel like he wasn't ready for the NBA, that would be one thing. If he was staying in Spain because at the age of 18 he didn't feel mature enough to handle the leap to the US of A, that would be another. But this kid wants cash. Plain and simple, he wants to get paid and he followed the biggest pay check. That took him to Barcelona. He stood up before the draft and said it was his ultimate dream to play in the NBA and he would go to whatever team took him. But really, something was lost in translation. What he meant to say or should have said was that he wanted to play in the NBA so long as it was with New York or Los Angeles and he was able to rake in some serious bank by endorsing whatever slew of products offered the biggest pay off. The "for the love of the game" stuff was cute but regrettably turned out to be as transparent as it initially appeared. So the game he is playing is called dollars and cents, but it doesn't make all that much sense. He'll make a few more mil in the very short run but really he's just deferring the only true monster pay day he'll ever get by putting off his NBA career. Two more years until he signs his rookie contract. Four more years after that until he gets his assumed max contract. What could really happen in those six years, you ask? He could get injured playing against Euro trash hacks. He doesn't develop at a fast enough pace. He flat out sucks or is simply average. Jonny Flynn dominates. Out of sight, out of mind - people forget about him because he's toiling away in the middle of Spain somewhere. There's an NBA lock out and rookie salary scales are adjusted for the worse. Any of these factors, amongst many others, could damage or destroy whatever leverage he currently holds. The door to the NBA was wide open, as was the door to Barcelona. He chose his backyard over the big stage. Draw your own conclusions from that one.
If the offer was right, I would trade the rights to Ricky Rubio right now. If he isn't here for two more seasons that means the Wolves will go another two years without landing one of their franchise faces. Are they supposed to simply twiddle their thumbs in the meantime? The Spurs could maybe get away with that. This is a team, however, that hasn't been in the playoffs for four seasons. Two more without Rubio would make six seasons, and that's making the presumptious assumption that they'd make it during his first NBA season. I'm not saying this team needs to make a run immediately, but they do need to be on the upward swing by 2011, not still in full blown talent development. As I said above, Jonny Flynn needs to claim the PG job and make everyone forget about Rubio. Note that I wouldn't give Rubio away for scraps. The trade would have to yield another core player in return. One offer I would explore is dealing Rubio and some expiring contracts to the Clippers for Eric Gordon, one of their garbage contracts and the Wolves old 1st Round Pick back. To my understanding, Rubio has an affordable buyout in 2011 but can still be bought out at any point until then but for some unGodly fee in excess of 8 million dollars. Los Angeles is one of two cities that could make that happen. I know the Clippers like Gordon but I'm betting the allure of paring Rubio and Blake Griffin in the mold of Stockton-Malone would be too much to pass on. Not only would they be able to build around the promise of a future dynasty but they could also begin to challenge the Lakers monopoly on buzz in the city of Angels. The Wolves, on the other hand, get a young and underrated dynamic scorer. Gordon's lights out shooting would pair perfectly with Flynn's drive and dish game. Both Flynn and Gordon are slightly undersized for their positions but they easily make up for that with being abnormally strong and athletic for their positions. A core moving forward of Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Jonny Flynn, Eric Gordon and 2010 Lottery Pick would be legitimate.
Peace out, ya'll.