Blogging the Bloggers: Pitino, Rubio and more

BALL DON’T LIE copped out a bit by including rookie deals, but they put together a list of “the top 10 value-for-money deals of the last decade.”

THE DAGGER discusses Rick Pitino’s weird press conference.

DIME says that Ricky Rubio will sign (or has signed?) a six-year deal with a Barcelona team. The news comes via a source from RealGM. Meanwhile, the WORLDWIDE LEADER says it’s not a done deal yet.

SPORTSBYBROOKS tells the story of a couple of Wisconsin radio guys who are urging Packer fans to donate all those Favre jerseys to the homeless.

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T-Wolves still trying to secure Rubio’s release

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minnesota GM David Kahn is intent on seeing Ricky Rubio in a T-Wolves uniform this season.

Timberwolves President David Kahn has made a second trip to Spain to try to learn more about what it will take to get Ricky Rubio, the team’s No. 1 draft pick, to Minnesota.

It’s still unclear whether the 18-year-old point guard could get out of his DKV Joventut Barcelona team’s contract, which includes a $6.6 million buyout, in time for Wolves training camp in October.

It’s expected to be several more weeks before the Wolves learn whether they will have Rubio for the coming season. But Rubio has indicated to Kahn that he’s willing to come to Minnesota if the buyout issue can be resolved.

Right now, the issue is money.

It’s believed the $6.6 million buyout has been negotiated down by some European teams to about $4 million.

If the buyout could be decreased to about $3 million, that probably would be enough for Rubio to get out of the his Spanish contract and get to Minnesota. Rubio could pay the $3 million or so over the next several years from his salary from the Wolves.

There was some speculation that the T-Wolves and the Knicks may be working on a deal that would send Rubio to New York, but nothing can happen until he is free from his DKV Joventut contract and is able to play in the NBA.

I wonder if Kahn has second guessed his decision to take Rubio and point guard Jonny Flynn back-to-back in this summer’s draft. The pick has certainly created a lot of headaches for Kahn and the organization, and right now he looks a little foolish.

Knicks pursuing Rubio?

It seems like an obvious match on paper. The Knicks have a well-documented need for a point guard and Ricky Rubio is threatening to play another year or two in Spain so that he can avoid playing in Minnesota, at least for the time being. Then, of course, there is the T-Wolves’ decision to draft point guards with back-to-back picks in this year’s draft. Throw in the Knicks’ reluctance to sign a point guard this summer and it all adds up — they’re pursuing Rubio.

One insider tells RealGM’s Alex Kennedy that Kahn could be working out a scenario where Rubio would be dealt to the New York Knicks.

“Kahn and [Knicks’ President] Donnie Walsh are close and New York is looking for a cheap point guard who could help attract free agents next summer. Rubio fits that mold. I think that’s what this latest trip to Spain is about, working something out with New York.”

First, let me state that this is all speculation. An “insider” told Real GM that Kahn “could be” working out a deal that would send Rubio to New York. This isn’t exactly substantial stuff.

Regardless, it’s not clear what New York would have to give up in this scenario, as they don’t have too many assets to offer. David Lee is a possibility, but the T-Wolves are pretty set up front with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. Nate Robinson is a good scorer, but wouldn’t be equal value for the potential that Rubio brings to the table. Wilson Chandler is a nice (though not particularly efficient) small forward, which is the same position that LeBron James plays.

Lee would seem to be the best that the Knicks have to offer, but would the T-Wolves want to pay him $8-$10 million per season when he’d likely come off the bench? Thinking about it, Chandler plus an unprotected first round pick might do the trick.

Rubio not returning to Spanish team, even if he doesn’t play in the NBA

Ricky Rubio may or may not want to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season, but one thing’s for sure — he doesn’t want to play for his old team, DKV Joventut.

He has an $8.2 million buyout with the club, and the T-Wolves can only contribute $500,000. Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid are interested in signing Rubio if he doesn’t come to the U.S.

The buyout is ridiculous considering that Rubio didn’t even make six figures playing for DKV Joventut last season. He has been trying to negotiate a smaller settlement, but thus far little progress has been made.

Trying to make sense of the Timberwolves’ first two picks

Probably the most perplexing sequence of events occurred early last night when the Minnesota Timberwolves picked Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn — two pure point guards — with back-to-back picks. My first instinct was that GM David Kahn (Kaaaaaaaaaahn!) was working out a trade for one of the guards, possibly moving Rubio to the Warriors or Knicks or some other team for a pick and/or veteran help. But then Ric Bucher popped his head in to inform us that Kahn said that he plans to play Rubio and Flynn together. Later on, Kahn mentioned a few examples of point guard duos that have played well in the past, citing Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge, and…gulp…Michael Jordan and John Paxson.

Setting aside the Jordan/Paxson comparison for a moment, let’s look at the other two examples. DJ and Ainge were both 6’4″ combo guards and neither guy had to have the ball in his hands to be effective. I don’t think the same will be said about Rubio or Flynn (certainly not Rubio). Dumars was 6’3″ defensive stopper and deadeye shooter, while Zeke was a ball-dominant playmaker. In short, Thomas was a pure point guard, while Dumars, Ainge and DJ were combo guards. Those backcourts worked because the two players complemented each other.

But back to Jordan/Paxson — if I’m a Timberwolves fan and I hear that my general manager is referring to Michael Jordan as a point guard, I’m getting out on the ledge. MJ was a 6’6″ wing, who could do everything — handle, shoot, post up and play defense. He was more of a 2/3 who could run the point if necessary. If Kahn really thinks that he was a point guard, then that shows an alarming lack of basic knowledge about the game.

But that’s not the only reason the comparison is invalid. A general manager should not be invoking Jordan’s name when discussing his first few picks in the draft. He is arguably the greatest player ever to play the game, so it’s not fair to expect your rookies to do the same things he did. Any backcourt that featured Jordan would have worked. He was that good.

Once Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden and Tyreke Evans were off the board, I thought for sure the T-Wolves would take a point guard (Rubio or Flynn) and Stephen Curry, who is a smallish combo guard that can shoot the lights out. If you want to run him at off guard, you need to pair him with a pure point guard to set him up. A Flynn/Curry or Rubio/Curry backcourt would have had a real chance at working. Rubio/Flynn would serve as the playmaker, while Curry’s shooting would create space for Al Jefferson and Kevin Love to work in the post. Defensively, a backcourt like that would have its share of problems, but at least it would make sense on the other end of the court.

I just don’t think a Rubio/Flynn backcourt will work. Both players are ball-dominant and neither guy shoots the ball very well. Rubio isn’t strong enough to cover most opposing shooting guards and Flynn isn’t tall enough to cover big guards on the block. Throw in the fact that Rubio doesn’t sound too thrilled about the prospect of playing in Minnesota, and Kahn might have one big mess on his hands.

Here is some more commentary about Minnesota’s first two picks…

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