Ricky Rubio Wants Out

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

From the Associated Press:

Ricky Rubio plans to part ways with Spanish basketball club DKV Joventut even if the Minnesota Timberwolves cannot reach a deal to bring their first-round draft pick to the NBA.

Timberwolves president David Kahn was in Spain this week to try and help the fifth overall pick negotiate a buyout of his contract with Joventut. Rubio is at odds with his boyhood club over a buyout clause that could cost the 18-year-old point guard as much as $6.6 million. The NBA's collective bargaining rules limit the Timberwolves' contribution to $500,000.

Regardless of whether Rubio makes the trip across the Atlantic next season, he won't be playing at Joventut.

"I want to continue with the club but, after everything that's happened, I don't think they're too comfortable having me in their squad," Rubio said Wednesday. "I want to play in a winning team, on a team that can achieve many things."

... Rubio has two years remaining on his deal with Joventut. The enormity of the buyout has a player who made less than $100,000 last season thinking twice about coming to the NBA right away.

That's what prompted Kahn to hop a plane to Spain on Monday. He met with Joventut officials to see if he could help resolve the issue, but declined to comment -- both on the news that Rubio will leave Joventut and the trip in general -- when reached by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Assuming that Rubio walks, there are a variety of possible outcomes:

  • According to the report, "Spanish basketball clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona are both interested in signing Rubio if he cannot make it to the NBA this season." Unlike the Timberwolves, who can't kick in more than half a million dollars to Rubio's buyout with Joventut, neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona are subject to that restraint. A team like Barcelona could work with Rubio to come up with agreeable terms to share the buyout, and Rubio could then join that squad.

  • Rubio could still join Minnesota, and would stand to earn approximately $5.65 million over the first two years of his deal. Even with Minnesota contributing the maximum $500,000 to his buyout with Joventut, Rubio would essentially be playing for free until the summer of 2011. Still, Rubio might ultimately decide that playing in the Twin Cities represents his least unattractive option in the long term.

  • Rubio could sit out of professional basketball for one year, which would allow him to re-enter the NBA draft next June.*

  • Rubio could patch things up with Joventut -- or at least come to a detente -- and play out his existing contract, or at least part of it. This would buy him some time to continue negotiations with the club and eventually reach a mutually agreeable number on the buyout.

*To clarify, this is the "nuclear option," which would require that Rubio buy out his contract with Joventut, and not play FIBA-sanctioned basketball -- something that should've been stated more clearly above.