Weekly Watch

Pos: PG
Size: 6-4 180
From: Spain
Hometown: Barcelona

Spanish phenom Ricky Rubio was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth overall pick in the nba_g_rubio_5802009 NBA draft last month, but has since returned to Barcelona instead of Minneapolis. Meanwhile, his agent and father have said that he could spend the next two years overseas fulfilling the remainder of his contract with DKV Joventut before coming to the NBA.

Originally, the thinking around the league was that Rubio didn’t want to play in Minnesota, for a team that he never visited and work out in front of prior to the draft. Part of that, according to public opinion, was because Wolves GM David Kahn also drafted another point guard, Jonny Flynn, with the sixth overall pick, immediately after he drafted Rubio.

But according to ESPN Insider Ric Bucher, the primary reason Rubio is considering staying overseas is the hefty price he’ll have to pay to buyout his current contract after sliding to the fifth spot in the draft after being widely considered a top-three pick.

Wrote Bucher:

Had Rubio been a top three pick, he could have more easily afforded to pay Joventut to release him, a source said. But the difference in salary between third and fifth in the draft is roughly $600,000 a year. Joventut reportedly is asking for no less than $4 million for his release.

Going to another European team is not a realistic option because that team would want a long-term commitment from Rubio and his desire remains to play in the NBA, a source said. Whether he can do that next season or when his Joventut contract expires two years from now is the question.

In any case, Rubio apparently has no objections to playing in Minnesota.

“This isn’t about Minnesota,” a source said. “It’s about the buyout.”

That information should quiet Kahn’s critics, who have said that he made a huge mistake drafting two point guards with the fifth and sixth picks in June’s draft. The thinking here is that Flynn should be able to hold down the position for the time being, with Rubio (who will be all of 20 years old two years from now) as the possible point guard of the future. If they can’t play in the same backcourt, which is likely the case, the Wolves then shouldn’t have a difficult time moving one of them.

The bottom line being that the Wolves needed a pure point guard in the worst way and simply couldn’t pass on a talent like Rubio – but took Flynn after being informed by Rubio’s agent that it could be a year or two before he brings his game to the NBA, due to the buyout situation.

*Email Andrew at ajohn135@gmail.com

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