Apr 16, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) dribbles against the Utah Jazz at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Rumors: Ricky Rubio Seeking Max From Timberwolves


The latest NBA rumors to fly through the blogosphere have Ricky Rubio, point guard of the Minnesota Timberwolves, seeking a maximum five-year contract extension. Remember, this is the organization who balked at giving Kevin Love a five-year contract, because they wanted to reserve that spot for Rubio (or someone else, I suppose). Is Rubio worth the money or should the Wolves slow it down a bit?

The report came from Darren Wolfson, of 1500ESPN.com in Minneapolis:

While it’s not surprising that Rubio and his agent would choose this time to start talking about their demands, it does raise an interesting dilemma — can the Wolves afford to make the same mistake (assuming it would be one) again?

There’s no doubt in my mind that Love would be preparing to play for the Timberwolves this season had they not given him a horrid contract that essentially ushered him out the door. Rubio isn’t the same kind of person, but he’s also not the same kind of player. Take a look at his stats:

Season Age Tm G MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2011-12 21 MIN 41 34.2 .357 .340 .363 .803 4.2 8.2 2.2 0.2 3.2 2.4 10.6
2012-13 22 MIN 57 29.7 .360 .293 .374 .799 4.0 7.3 2.4 0.1 3.0 2.5 10.7
2013-14 23 MIN 82 32.2 .381 .331 .393 .802 4.2 8.6 2.3 0.1 2.7 2.7 9.5
Career 180 31.9 .368 .323 .380 .801 4.1 8.1 2.3 0.1 2.9 2.5 10.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/15/2014.

Is that a max contract player? If he were the best on-ball defensive player in the league, you still couldn’t argue that he deserves a five-year deal. As it stands, Rubio is a very good defender in isolation, where he ranked No. 33 in the NBA, according to Synergy Sports. Of course, he’s not often in that position (10.9 percent of the time). The position he’s most in is against the pick-and-roll ball handler, where he ranked No. 173 in the NBA.

82games.com takes a different look at things, based on how opposing players performed against Rubio. Ricky allowed a ghastly 19.7 efficiency rating against point guards during the 2013-14 season. Where is the myth that he’s a great defender coming from, anyways? Yes, he’s very adept at getting into the passing lanes and he’ll be among the league leaders in steals every season…but if he’s giving up buckets every time he fails, that’s not going to matter.

We could talk about the salary floor and how the Wolves need to pay someone, but that’s not a good reason to overpay one player. They’d be much better spreading that money out to three or four fringe players, while giving Rubio a contract in the $10-12 million range annually. Would Rubio — a 36.8 percent career shooter, mind you — scoff at that kind of offer?

And perhaps a better question — if he did scoff at that offer and decided he wanted out, would that be the worst thing in the world? Whether it’s Love, Rubio or a combination of the two, the Wolves haven’t been very good for a long time. It seemed like they were gaining momentum in 2013-14, but that’s been stopped…quickly.

What’s Rubio’s ceiling here? He could turn into Rajon Rondo if he were better at finishing around the rim, but even Rondo has struggled without having Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett around him. At the end of the day, Rubio isn’t a max player. He’s not as emotionally volatile as Love and the Timberwolves should know that. Coming back with an offer in the $10-12 million range is the right play, then they could negotiate from there.

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Tags: Minnesota Timberwolves Popular Ricky Rubio

  • Michael Meehan

    Agree 100%.

  • Jueceman

    Max? Nah. You have to at least make the playoffs as the floor general of your team with Kevin Love. I’d give him 10 mil per for 5 years with an opt out after 3. If i were the timberwolves I’d tell him and Love to hit the road and keep drafting until a playoff team emerges

  • J Taylor

    It’s all part of the negotiation process…
    And, it’s also possible that his agent is creating an environment where Rubio leaves Minnesota.
    - After Love leaves, what’s left for a “supposed” superstar PG?

  • jayr

    Looking at Rubio’s performance with this team, bench is rightful place if he is playing for Spurs, Heat, Oklahoma or stronger teams.

  • Yu-Hsing Chen

    The Wolfs were +7 (roughly the Clippers team +/- last year) in the time he was on the floor , they were -5 (roughly the Lakers +/- last year) when he was not,

    His RPM have been very good for 2 strait years now.

    There is evidence that he makes their team better. by a very very wide margin. if you believe that’s a real skill (and generally looking at RPMs over the years it usually is.) then he’s worth something like the 3-4 year max, at least close to it.

    You can argue whichever way you want, but the price is obviously dictated by the market, and I’m fairly sure there will be at least a couple of team who believe his play making skill enough to throw out a max or 1-2 million from the max offer sheet at him.