The Minnesota Timberwolves next step to the NBA trade deadline batter’s box and must take a swing at rumblings surrounding star point guard Ricky Rubio.
Rubio has been the subject of rampant rumors since the start of training camp, though the organization hasn’t been willing to bite on any sort of offering. With the deadline approaching on February 18, though, it seemed only a matter of time before Rubio’s name came up.
It has in the form of teams calling the Timberwolves, according to 1500 ESPN’s Derek James:
Windhorst says that teams are calling about Rubio but the Timberwolves really don’t want to do that.
— Derek James (@DerekJamesNBA) February 11, 2016
From the sounds of it, Minnesota doesn’t have an interest in dealing the 25-year-old guard. But folks understand the old adage that goes along the lines of “crazier things have happened.”
Teams around the league not only have every right to call about Rubio ahead of the deadline, they’d be smart to. Rubio’s average points (9.7), assists (8.6) and minutes (30.3) are down this year, which opens up a slightly interesting bargaining chip to start the conversation. So is the fact the team wants to be able to work in Zach LaVine and Andre Miller at times to pair with Andrew Wiggins in the backcourt.
Opposing teams also won’t hesitate to point out that the current makeup of the Timberwolves simply isn’t working, not with the franchise sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference at 17-37.
For his part, Rubio told Britt Robson of the Minnesota Post last November that he never once considered leaving the franchise and that both sides trust each other to keep building the foundation:
No, I never thought about leaving this franchise, for a lot of reasons. One of them is because they trusted me from the beginning. And I trust them. My first year I think we would have made the playoffs if I wouldn’t get hurt, but like I said, you can’t blame it on what happened — we didn’t make the playoffs. But I feel like I really didn’t have the opportunity to take this team to the playoffs.
The postseason isn’t in Minnesota’s future this season, either. Before the season, most expected Rubio to relax and run the offense well while leaning on Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, the first real help he’s received since joining the team. This hasn’t worked out as most would have thought just yet, but it’s up for debate as to whether hitting the reset button and dealing Rubio makes sense.
For now, it sounds like the Timberwolves will wait this one out and see if the chemistry of a full season together pays off next year. But there are sharks in the water circling the boat, so to speak. Other teams understand the situation and Rubio in a different environment has the upside of one of the league’s best players. If a team comes with a major offer that the Timberwolves actually blink at, it will be interesting to see if the front office changes its stance.
Going up to the deadline, these calls won’t stop. Will Minnesota’s adamant stance remain firm? The rest of the league should be eager to find out given the impact a Rubio deal could have on the playoff race if a contender can wrangle him away.