I know that typically I focus on baseball and the Minnesota Twins, but if you were around when Off The Mark first started, I mentioned that I would occasionally forage into other topics. I apologize if some of you are turned off by this post about the Timberwolves, but I follow all of Minnesota’s four major sports teams. Baseball is certainly my biggest sports interest, but I have enough knowledge of the other three sports to talk about them from time to time.*
* In order of knowledge: Baseball, basketball/football, hockey. If I’m talking hockey, one of three things has probably happened: I have nothing else to post, something really interesting just happened, or I honestly feel like I have a serious suggestion for the Wild.
As many of you know, the Timberwolves are struggling once again. It’s a bit depressing to see a 4-7 record in their last 11 games as an improvement, but that’s the case after a 1-15 start to the season. Thanks to that terrible start, the Wolves possess the 2nd worst record in the NBA this year (the New Jersey Nets are 3 games worse at 2-25). Even if the Wolves do not finish with the worst record this year, they still have a shot at the #1 pick in the draft thanks to the lottery. Although the past does not suggest the Wolves will move up in the draft (the Wolves have never improved their draft positioning by way of the lottery), finishing second to last would still give them a great chance of picking the top prize in next year’s draft: Kentucky point guard John Wall.
If you would like a scouting report on Wall, here you go. I know so little about this guy, I had to use Google to find out that he attends Kentucky, so don’t expect me to tell you what I think about him. If he’s as good as Darren “Doogie” Wolfson claims, then whoever gets the #1 pick should take him. If this happens to be the Timberwolves, then he’s an absolute must…except there’s a problem.
First, they just drafted Jonny Flynn, who is averaging 14.0 points and 4.2 assists per game in his rookie season. Then there’s Ramon Sessions, who signed a 4-year contract in the offseason and is averaging 8.4 PPG and 3.1 APG as the mentor and backup to Flynn. Lastly, the Wolves have Ricky Rubio, the guy who has dreamed of playing in the NBA since who knows when, except for when his chance is given to him by Wolves GM David Kahn. So what’s the problem? All three are point guards.
The Rubio issue is rather complex. Without doing any research,* here’s what I can tell you about him. He is currently 19 years old (18 when drafted) and plays professional basketball in Spain. When drafted, he was still under contract with DKV Joventut with a buyout clause somewhere around or above $5 million. However, by NBA rules, the Wolves were only allowed to pay $500,000 of this buyout. GM David Kahn tried to get some sponsorships lined up for Rubio so he could pay for the remainder of the buyout himself, but right when the Wolves and DKV Joventut had reached an agreement, Rubio backed out, stating that he wanted to stay in Spain so he could be better prepared for the NBA.** He eventually was traded to rival team FC Barcelona after this whole ordeal. FC Barcelona agreed to lower the cost of the buyout (around $1.4 million) provided that Rubio stays with the team for 2 years.
* I lied. I went to Rubio’s Wikipedia page and an ESPN report for some of this info.
** Additionally, it’s been said that he was pressured into staying by his teammates, the Spanish media, and members of his hometown.
Although it’s disappointing to see him stay in Spain, in the near future it probably is for the best of the Timberwolves and Rubio. The alternative would be rushing him to the NBA, which would make him the basketball equivalent of a New York Met farmhand (see: Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber) which would hurt both parties. However, it’s not the readiness that concerns me; it’s the question of if he actually wants to play in Minnesota.
Before the NBA draft, Rubio was asked to play word association with some NBA markets. He gave positive answers for Sacramento and Oklahoma City, but his response to Minnesota was, “Too cold.” Opinions were mixed over his intent of this answer, with some stating that Rubio was simply joking, whereas others took it to mean that he would not willingly come to Minnesota. Oddly enough, Kahn seemed to know that Rubio would not want to come to the NBA this year, so he drafted Jonny Flynn after Rubio, despite both of them being point guards.
Now back to John Wall. If the planets align and he becomes a Timberwolf, then the Wolves have 4 point guards under control (even though Rubio is not in the NBA, the Wolves still have his draft rights). Also, if it is true that Rubio does not want to play in Minnesota, then he becomes a tradeable commodity. Some people consider him to be a great point guard in the future, so if this mindset remains true and he doesn’t want to be a Timberwolf, then David Kahn should consider shipping him off to another team. No team needs four point guards, and I’m pretty sure several teams don’t even need three.
Unfortunately, trading Rubio would still leave the Wolves with Wall, Flynn, and Sessions. With all three at 24 years old and younger next season, (Wall will be 20, Flynn 21, and Sessions 24, all for the majority or all of the season) none really stands out as most desirable to be traded. It seems a bit excessive for the Wolves to trade 2 point guards away, but it’s possible that it may happen. Wall and Flynn are likely future starting point guards, and there’s no way that Sessions should be on the third string. Carrying all three while giving everyone a fair amount of playing time and without moving anyone to shooting guard (where all three are undersized) is a rather difficult problem to solve. Anyway, my forte is baseball, so this is an issue that Kahn and the Wolves can sort out themselves. Trading Rubio to make room for Wall is just my two cents. Who knows, maybe the Wolves will view this similarly to the Twins with last year’s outfield and keep everyone on the roster…provided that Wall ends up on the roster in the first place.