What Ricky Rubio can learn from Juan Carlos Navarro

Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm wrote a nice piece about how Navarro relates to Rubio’s decision to stay in Spain for two more seasons.

The impression you get from interviews with Navarro is that he just didn’t care that much about the NBA. He loves Spain. It’s his home. And versus the States, where there will be constant questions about his style, his ability, and his talent simply because he hasn’t played in the AAU tournaments or Rucker Park or the NCAA Tournament, in Spain, he’s considered mega-successful. Would you rather be a pauper in heaven or a prince in Hell? What if Hell was actually your home, and instead of the brimstone pits, it was nice beaches, beautiful women, amazing food and way more money than you can make in heaven? The assumption that every great basketball player in the world will always have the competitive fire to be the best no matter the cost is, I’m sorry, a gigantic crock. It’s a fallacy brought upon us by Jordan, Garnett, and Nike.

Moore goes on to discuss how Navarro’s experience might affect Rubio.

In an interview a few weeks ago, Navarro was talking about giving Rubio advice. You have to wonder how that’s going to play out for Minnesota. From all accounts, which Wolves fans will happily remind you of every thirty seconds, Rubio wants to play in the NBA more than anything in the world. It’s his dream, whatever that means. That certainly wasn’t the case with Navarro, who was always kind of like, “eh.” So even if Navarro is trying to warn him off of going to a terrible team for less money, he may not listen. Plus, the Wolves are in much better shape than the Grizzlies were in 07-08. But the fact remains that everyone talks about Rubio’s game developing as he gets older. What about his personality? What if he learns to really love his life in Spain as he gets older and gets to enjoy being a young man making millions of dollars in an awesome city?

I lived in Memphis for three years and visited Barcelona on a whirlwind trip through Europe, and I can say that there is a lot of truth to Moore’s words. The NBA is clearly the best league in the world, but the European leagues have improved and the money is about the same (or in JCN’s case, much more). Why would a Spaniard in his mid-twenties choose to take less money to play for a bad team in Memphis instead if playing ball in beautiful Barcelona?

Ricky Rubio was faced with a similar decision this year, only it was Minneapolis, not Memphis. And he chose to stay in Spain for a while. Will he ever come over? Probably. As the post states, it has always been Rubio’s dream to play in the NBA. He may not play for the T-Wolves, but I think he will eventually join the league.

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Rubio speaks out about decision to stay in Spain

By now, every NBA fan worth his salt knows that Ricky Rubio has decided to play in Spain for two more seasons before coming to the NBA. Recently, he spoke out about why he chose to stay put.

“Going to Minnesota would have just complicated my life a lot. It was a risk and I didn’t see it so clearly,” Rubio said. “My priority was the NBA and it was impossible for the Minnesota Timberwolves to pay my buyout clause, so I wanted to stay home.”

“When the season ended, I entered the draft with the intention of going to the NBA,” Rubio said Wednesday. “But some things happened that kept me from being ahead of the rest and I ended up No. 5, which I was happy with, but it didn’t allow me the chance to go to the NBA. I tried, but in the end it wasn’t to be.”

“Going to Minnesota would have just complicated my life a lot.”

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that…

Some people are attacking Minnesota GM David Kahn and some are defending his decision to pick Ricky Rubio on draft day. The bottom line is that Rubio would be joining the NBA this season had he 1) gone early enough in the draft that he could afford to pay his own buyout or 2) had he been drafted into a better situation.

Does anyone honestly think he’d be staying in Barcelona for two years if the Knicks had drafted him at #8? He wouldn’t have been able to pay his own buyout, but the marketing ramifications of playing in the Big Apple (in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system) would have been to great too ignore. His camp would have found a way to make it happen.

No, Rubio is staying in Spain because he was drafted by the Timberwolves at #5. Had he gone to the Warriors at #7, the Kings at #4 or even the Thunder at #3, we might have found ourselves in a similar situation. This is neither a knock on Kahn for drafting Rubio nor a endorsement of that decision.

That verdict won’t be in for some time.

Reassessing the T-Wolves’ draft night

Given the news that Ricky Rubio plans to stay in Spain for two more years, TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott looks back at the 2009 NBA Draft to try to make sense of it all. Minnesota GM David Kahn is being criticized for taking Rubio when it was somewhat of a long shot that he’d be suiting up for the T-Wolves in 2009. Even so, drafting two point guards (Rubio and Jonny Flynn) back-to-back was…um…unorthodox, to say the least.

The truth, to me, is — in that scenario Kahn’s draft night is being judged short-term while it is really a long-term plan. (Not to mention, have you heard David Kahn talk? He is not dumb. Anyone could tell you that.)

But mainly my point is: If you are arguing he should not have taken Rubio, you need to also argue who he should have taken instead. Stephen Curry? Maybe, but you still have the two point guard problem. The same goes for Brandon Jennings. On the wing, where the Wolves have real need, some people love Demar DeRozan, I guess, or Gerald Henderson.

There is no way the Timberwolves needed another non-center big man like Jordan Hill to sit behind Kevin Love and Al Jefferson.

The point: It was tricky. There was no low-risk proposition. You either take Rubio, widely considered to be one of the two or three best prospects in the draft, or you take … someone with a higher probability of reporting to camp, but a lower ceiling as a player.

And close your eyes a moment and imagine Ricky Rubio, NBA All-Star. If ever that happens, people will then reverse engineer how he got there, and make somebody look like a genius. They don’t hand out the rights to all-stars for free, though. What they do hand out for free, however, on draft night, are the rights to players who have chances at becoming All-Stars.

I don’t agree that Stephen Curry would create a two point guard problem, not in the way that a Rubio/Flynn backcourt does. Curry is a shooter first. I think he can probably play the point, but he’s better suited off the ball in a situation where his lack of height doesn’t hurt him on the other end of the court.

If Rubio does one day become and All-Star, Kahn will be lauded for this pick, but if Rubio does not play for the T-Wolves, it is imperative that Kahn get something for the young Spaniard that will make the T-Wolves better.

It’s definitely a long-term play, but the NBA is typically a short-term business.

Rubio plans to stay in Spain for two more years

Minnesota GM David Kahn said that there was an agreement in place to bring Ricky Rubio to the NBA this season, but in the end, the young Spaniard decided that he’d rather play in his home country for two more seasons.

Yet just as the team appeared to be putting the finishing touches on a deal to bring Rubio to the NBA, Rubio came to Kahn with second thoughts.

“This morning I met with Ricky and his parents and told them that I understood Ricky’s decision,” Kahn said in a statement. “It was clear to me yesterday and in this morning’s meeting that the pressure surrounding Ricky and his family to remain in Spain for at least two more years had only intensified as the summer wore on and was weighing heavily on them.”

Shortly after Rubio was drafted, there was talk that he and his agent preferred him to play in a larger market to better take advantage of endorsement opportunities that would help offset the costs of the buyout.

In a statement issued by the Timberwolves, Rubio said he has every intention of coming to Minnesota in two years. The Wolves retain Rubio’s draft rights for one year after his contractual obligation to Barcelona ends.

I don’t really blame Rubio here. Have you seen Barcelona? It’s far more beautiful and vibrant than the Twin Cities, especially from November to March, when the NBA season is in full swing. I’m sure that the option to stay close to home and play in a comfortable situation for two more seasons was an appealing choice, especially since Rubio is still only 18 years old.

As for the T-Wolves, they will still hold his NBA rights for a year after his contract with his Barcelona team is complete. There’s no huge rush to get him to the NBA, though I’m guessing that if David Kahn could do it all over again, he might take Stephen Curry instead.

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.

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