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News » Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2009-09-04

Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2009-09-04

Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2009-09-04
Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations David Kahn predicted turbulence and preached patience the night he drafted Ricky Rubio fifth overall in this summer's NBA draft.

Wolves fans had no idea then just how right he'd be.

Kahn returned from Spain two days before the Labor Day week with his passport stamped there for the third time already this summer, but without Rubio just when he nearly had the elusive 18-year-old point guard secured.

While there, Kahn reached agreement with Rubio's DKV Joventut team on a complicated multi-million dollar contract buyout that would have put Rubio in a Wolves uniform this season.

Two nights later, on Aug. 31, Rubio informed Kahn that he had changed his mind and wanted to remain at home with a new team in Barcelona rather than leave for Minnesota and the NBA, a path he set for himself last spring when he entered the draft.

Rubio chose a six-year deal with Regal Barcelona that will keep him out of a Wolves uniform now at least for two years, possibly three or conceivably forever. His new contract allows him to come to the NBA in summer 2011 for a buyout less than one-fifth the price of the original $8.1 million Joventut buyout that sent Kahn to Spain three times in six weeks to try to solve.

But he also could try to avoid the NBA rookie pay scale altogether by remaining in Europe for three years.

Kahn had solved that formidable buyout issue with a deal believed to include Rubio's future endorsement earnings, a portion of his future NBA earnings and such creative financing as proposed exhibition games featuring the Wolves in Spain.

By NBA rules, the Wolves are only allowed to pay $500,000 cash toward a player's buyout.

Joventut officials chose the Wolves' offer even though it did not equal Regal Barcelona's unfettered $5.3 million cash offer -- Kahn called it "competitive enough" however -- presumably because Rubio's departure to the NBA would bring the team prestige and because the Wolves are not Regal Barcelona, Joventut's cross-town rival.

Rubio, who had the right to accept or refuse any transfer, chose to stay home with Regal Barcelona instead.

Kahn said he does not regret selecting Rubio fifth overall in the draft, even though he will not play for the Wolves for at least two years and might not ever play for them. He also suggested Rubio's decision could turn out to be the best thing for his development and for the Wolves' future.

Memphis, Oklahoma City and Sacramento all passed on Rubio -- considered by many draft analysts as the draft's second-best prospect -- perhaps because of the problematic buyout issue.

"He's 18," Kahn said. "No matter what our circumstances are two years from now, I believe that was the highest and best value pick we could have made the way things developed that night."

Kahn said he always considered signing Rubio this summer a "long shot" because of the size of the buyout and said he did not celebrate even after striking a deal with Joventut because he knew there were still "issues" to resolve.

"We still own the rights to Ricky," said Kahn, whose team will keep Rubio's rights as long as he plays professionally elsewhere, "and that's still a significant thing to have."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: September 4, 2009


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