Timberwolves GM: We’re not talking about trading Ricky Rubio
Heading into his fifth NBA season, Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio is caught in a bit of a basketball limbo for the Timberwolves. He’s too old to be considered a true member of the Wolves’ raw, young core (though with Rubio being just 24, that’s more a testament to the absurd pool of fresh talent on the team than anything). But he’s not old enough to be considered a veteran elder statesman alongside the old dogs like Kevin Garnett, Andre Miller, and Tayshaun Prince. With some uncertainty about where he fits into the team heading into the future and with young point guards Zach LaVine and Tyus Jones buried behind him on the depth chart, trade rumors have dogged the Spanish guard all summer. But Timberwolves GM Milt Newton wants to put the speculation to rest as soon as possible.
“We’re not talking to anybody about trading Ricky,” said Newton to Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press on Friday. “[He] is an integral part of our team” [and] one of the best facilitators in the NBA.”
Rubio is a unique case when it comes to performing a cost-benefit analysis of trading him. He’s elite in a couple of facets of the game (playmaking, initiating offense out of the pick-and-roll and on the fastbreak, on-ball defensive instincts), but is severely limited in other important NBA skills such as finishing at the rim and jump-shooting (though his jumper from the left elbow area is money). With the point guard position being by far and away the deepest in the league today (and perhaps even of all-time), the argument could be made that Rubio is a dispensable piece for the up-and-coming Timberwolves. His player development has been slowed down by injuries and with his jumper perpetually failing to improve, opposing defenses can sag a step or two off Rubio on the perimeter and clog up driving and cutting lanes, a death sentence in the pace-and-space era.
But first-class ability to create for teammates and be a defensive pest at the point guard position (not to mention, his underrated rebounding skills for his size) ensure that Rubio will always bring a ton of value to the table. It’s just a matter of weighing what Rubio takes off of that table and deciding if you can work around it and if he fits into the future plans of your team the way things stand today. And with training camp just around the corner, it’s good to see Newton and the Timberwolves finally making that decision.