The Minnesota Timberwolves are reluctant to trade Ricky Rubio, but a trade remains possible. Which teams would benefit most from trading for Rubio?
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Oct 19, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) dribbles in the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Target Center. The Timberwolves beat the Grizzlies 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
As it pertains to NBA trade rumors, few players have been referenced more over the past four months than Ricky Rubio. The Minnesota Timberwolves used a Top 5 draft pick to select a player at Rubio’s position, which has inevitably called his future into question.
Though Minnesota has’t yet committed to moving Rubio, it’s hard to imagine him remaining with the Timberwolves for much longer.
A recent report confirmed the belief that Minnesota is hesitant to pull the trigger on a trade, but remains willing to do so in the near future. In other words, it may not be imminent, but a deal is likely on the horizon.
There is still time until the 2016 NBA draft’s fifth overall selection, Kris Dunn, takes over as the Minnesota Timberwolves’ point guard – which is why the franchise is still resisting trade overtures for Ricky Rubio, league sources told The Vertical.
Thibodeau doesn’t anticipate Dunn becoming the starter until approximately 20 games into the regular season, league sources said.
After those 20 games, Rubio being moved to the bench could be the recipe for chemistry disaster.
Through five NBA seasons, Rubio has career averages of 10.1 points, 8.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game. He offers a bit of everything, albeit with the harsh reality that he boasts a career slash line of .368/.318/.815.
The question is: which teams should be pushing to trade for Rubio during the 2016-17 NBA regular season?
Oct 14, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) passes the ball under the basket against Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic (7) and center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
5. San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker is one of the greatest players in San Antonio Spurs history. Parker is a four-time NBA champion, Finals MVP, four-time All-NBA honoree, and six-time All-Star who has all but secured his place in the Hall of Fame.
Parker is also 34 years of age, which beckons the question: is Patty Mills the long-term replacement or should R.C. Buford be looking for other options?
Rubio could be a wise addition based on the reputation San Antonio has of helping international players excel. Parker and Manu Ginobili are the prime examples, but the likes of Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter have also stepped up.
Perhaps it’s Gregg Popovich and the Spurs who can help Rubio shoot with more consistency and live up to his full potential as a player.
Mills could be the answer for the Spurs, but he could also be the ideal backup to Kris Dunn in Minnesota. San Antonio would have to offer some of its more valuable players, but Rubio would be worth the risk and investment.
Rubio’s defense and facilitating touch would fall right in line with what San Antonio could benefit from adding to the mix.
Oct 1, 2016; Bossier City, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Buddy Hield (24) and forward Anthony Davis (23) and guard Tim Frazier (2) and guard Lance Stephenson (5) walk onto the court after a time out against the Dallas Mavericks during a game at CenturyLink Center. New Orleans won 116-102. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
4. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans will be without starting point guard Jrue Holiday for the foreseeable future. Langston Galloway has two-way potential at point guard, but the Pelicans have postseason aspirations and little time to waste.
If the Pelicans somehow manage to trade for Ricky Rubio, one would be inclined to believe that Anthony Davis’ job would become significantly easier.
Rubio is a masterful facilitator, a quality rebounder, and one of the best defensive players at his position. His ability to distribute the ball would enable Davis to create less for himself and capitalize on opportunities to score off of feeds from his teammates.
Holiday has helped in that regard, but he’s missed at least 40 games in two of his three seasons in New Orleans.
Defensively, Rubio’s ability to contain point guards and force turnovers would fuel the Pelicans’ transition offense. Alvin Gentry likes to run, and Rubio is the ideal point guard for such a strategy to be executed.
This isn’t a necessary trade, but if the Pelicans move on from Tyreke Evans, then Rubio could be the ideal replacement as a big guard who can do a bit of everything.
Oct 15, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) drives toward the net as Detroit Pistons center Boban Marjanovic (51) defends during the third quarter of the preseason game at the Wells Fargo Center. The Pistons won 97-76. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers could be without Ben Simmons for the entirety of the 2016-17 NBA regular season. He suffered a foot injury that’s caused his camp to believe that it may not be worth risking his health.
I just got off the phone with somebody who I really trust in the NBA, and he’s like there’s no way his agent is going to let him play this year. That’s an injury that you don’t mess around with, and he thinks he’s going to keep him off his feet all year.
If Simmons is going to miss the entire 2016-17 season, then the Philadelphia 76ers should consider looking Ricky Rubio’s way.
Rubio and Simmons project to be an abrasive fit in the long-term, as both are ball-dominant facilitators who can do everything but shoot. If Simmons is out for the year, however, it’d behoove Philadelphia to land itself a facilitator.
Rubio may be criticized for his inability to shoot—from anywhere—but he’s one of the most valuable facilitators in the NBA today.
Oct 3, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (left) and forward Dirk Nowitzki (right) watch their team take on the Charlotte Hornets during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
2. Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks have J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, and Deron Williams running point. The first two have mutual loyalty with the Mavericks and the latter played well enough in 2015-16 to earn a $9 million deal this past summer.
Neither Barea nor Harris nor Williams will provide the all-around impact that Dallas needs, however, which is why trading for Ricky Rubio should be a priority.
If the Mavericks managed to execute a trade without giving up too many assets, the starting lineup could be quite promising. Rubio would join Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, and Andrew Bogut as members of a well-rounded starting five.
The question is: would Dallas be able to provide an attractive enough trade package to convince Minnesota to pull the trigger?
The Mavericks could offer Justin Anderson and Dwight Powell, who are two promising young players with intriguing two-way potential. Harris and a draft pick would likely need to be included, as well, but that isn’t exactly blowing a front office away.
Dallas may not have enough to get a trade done on its own, but if it can include a third team, Rubio would be a wise acquisition.
Oct 10, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) looks to pass the ball in the first quarter against the Maccabi Haifa B.C. at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
1. Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings need a point guard who not only racks up big assist numbers, but makes everyone around him better. Rajon Rondo did one of the two, but Ricky Rubio has proven capable of doing both.
If the Kings can swing a trade for Rubio—and they’ve certainly been trying—then DeMarcus Cousins could potentially lead Sacramento back to the NBA Playoffs.
As previously established, Rubio elevated the quality of his teammates’ play in 2015-16. That’s a product of his willingness to distribute and his commitment to defending at a high level, which is a combination that few point guards offer in the modern NBA.
The Sacramento Kings are the most determined of several teams expressing interest in finding a pathway to a Rubio deal
Sacramento is and should be determined to get something done.
Rubio can set the table for Cousins and other Kings players who are in dire need of a true facilitator. He can help lead the perimeter defense, as well, which has been a consistent flaw for Sacramento throughout its postseason drought.
If the Kings want to make a serious run at the postseason in 2016-17, then they need a point guard who can run the offense and lead the defense.