SBD/Issue 194/Franchises

T'Wolves Face Tough Situation, Big Buyout With Top Pick Rubio

Rubio (r) Says He Is Not Sure Deal
Will Be Reached With T'Wolves
The T'Wolves Thursday night selected G Ricky Rubio with the No. 5 pick in the NBA Draft, but it is "not a sure thing" that he "will be playing in Minnesota next season," according to Don Seeholzer of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. The Wolves need to negotiate a $6.6M buyout of Rubio's contract with Spain's DKV Joventut, and Rubio said that he "wasn't sure" a deal would be reached. T'Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn: "I'm neither confident nor nonconfident. I don't know enough at this point." The T'Wolves under NBA rules are allowed to "pay only $500,000 toward Rubio's buyout," and thus the remainder "would come out of Rubio's NBA contract." Kahn said that Rubio being taken at No. 5 "instead of in the top three picks makes it 'more problematic.'" Rubio stressed that he "wants to play in the NBA but that he couldn't say when." Kahn noted that he has had a "couple of long conversations" with Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, who is working to "get the buyout reduced." Kahn: "We need to understand that we're not in control of the situation vis-a-vis the buyout. I think it's too early to worry" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 6/26). Meanwhile, SI.com's Chris Mannix cites sources as saying that Rubio is "less than enamored with the prospect of playing in the Twin Cities and that his buyout situation with his Spanish club remains sticky." If Rubio "balks at coming to Minnesota or if he is forced to remain in Spain for another year, the Timberwolves could be forced to deal him" (SI.com, 6/26). Rubio's father reportedly told Spanish Web site Marca.com that Rubio "may remain in Spain for a few more years rather than play in the NBA" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/26). CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger writes Kahn "likes Rubio so much ... that he's apparently willing to wait out his return to Europe rather than trade him." Berger: "This also explains why Kahn selected another point guard, Jonny Flynn, with the sixth pick. Insurance" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/26).

Flynn One Of Several Point Guards
Selected By T'Wolves In Draft
WHAT'S THE POINT? In Minneapolis, Jerry Zgoda notes the T'Wolves selected three more point guards in the draft, including Flynn with the No. 6 pick, and "once again left fans who came to Target Center to celebrate absolutely befuddled, perhaps dismayed, and wondering what in the world their team once again had done." T'Wolves F Kevin Love during the draft wrote on his Twitter feed, "What are we doing? We better trade. I don't even know." The T'Wolves did reach a preliminary agreement to send G Ty Lawson to the Nuggets, but Kahn said that "neither Rubio nor Flynn will be traded" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/26). Kahn after Thursday's draft said, "We got a kick out of it when it happened. We knew it was going to have everybody going nuts" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/26). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes fans someday will view Kahn's draft picks as "either innovation, genius or a really bad case of short-term memory loss." But Kahn's "hyperactivity has grabbed our attention and ensured that the Wolves' next losing season will be more interesting than their last" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/26). ESPN.com's Bill Simmons praised the Rubio selection, but wrote after Flynn was selected, "So much for Minnesota doing the right thing." Simmons wrote of Kahn, "I’m never trusting a guy who worked as a TV consultant, a sports writer and a stadium campaign organizer to run an NBA team again” (ESPN.com, 6/26).

FIRING UP THE FAITHFUL: In St. Paul, Charley Walters reports the team believes that Rubio and Flynn "certainly will improve business," and T'Wolves President Chris Wright predicted "season-ticket renewals will go up" 10% in the next few days. The T'Wolves, who drew about 2,000 fans to their draft party at Target Center Thursday night, had around 6,000 full-season equivalents heading into the draft (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 6/26). SI.com's Ian Thomsen writes the T'Wolves could use Rubio "to brand the team to his exciting uptempo style in hope of returning fans to their arena" (SI.com, 6/26).

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