It is early May, the playoffs are humming along, the NCAA’s early entry withdrawal date has passed. It can only mean one thing: the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to try and convince Ricky Rubio to leave beautiful Barcelona for Minneapolis.
For once I don’t think the normal Joe on the street can do a better job than Wolves general manager David Kahn in that regard.
But for the third consecutive summer, Kahn and his staff will make the trip and try to convince their 2009 first round pick to make the trek to the NBA. This after one of Rubio’s worst seasons in his career and with an uncertain future for the NBA with collective bargaining upcoming this summer. You can already see all the pluses for Rubio to come over.
A lot is working against the Timberwolves as they try to convince Rubio it is the right time to make the leap.
Minnesota does not have anywhere near a championship team. In fact, the Timberwolves have the exact opposite as they hold the most ping pong ball for the NBA Draft Lottery on May 17. Somehow I do not think Kyrie Irving holds as much cache for Rubio.
David Kahn’s dream of creating a Bad Boys Pistons-type backcourt with Jonny Flynn and Rubio seems to be falling apart. Flynn has not panned out quite how Kahn envisioned when he selected him with the sixth overall pick in 2009, one spot behind Rubio. Flynn averaged just 5.3 points per game and 3.4 assists per game while seeing his minutes dwindle dramatically. He started in only eight games and averaged only 18.5 minutes per game after starting 81 and playing 28.9 minutes per game his rookie year. Injuries have slowed Flynn down, but he has just simply not been getting the job done.
Kevin Love is about the only good thing going for Minnesota, and that may not be enough for Rubio.
The Wolves will join forces with Rubio’s American agent to persuade him that now is the right time to make the move to the NBA. The above is working against him. So is the NBA’s uncertain labor future, the fact he is tied to the current collective bargaining agreement’s rookie pay scale (for one more year and then he can negotiate freely) and his seeming general distaste for playing in a small market like Minneapolis. Remember it was Rubio showing trepidation about Sacramento after he worked out for the Kings.
But his agent in Spain, German Gonzalez, says Rubio is not ready to make the leap across the Atlantic Ocean. Rubio still seems to be having his trepidations.
Rubio had perhaps his worst professional season this year for Regal Barcelona. In Euroleague this year, he scored only 6.5 points per game and dished out 3.5 assists per game while shooting 39.2 percent on two-point shots. Those seem to be numbers that are par for the course for him. Hardly overwhelming numbers and his shot comes and goes as much as his stat line suggests.
So maybe it is not a bad thing if he gets to play more against Euroleague competition. Or maybe it is time for him to step up and play NBA competition.
The Wolves will make their sales pitch and all they can do is hope Rubio will listen.
Photo via DayLife.com.