Rubio buyout still a problem
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn said point guard Ricky Rubio's buyout situation is "still very problematic" and he remains unsure of when the fifth overall pick will come to the United States.
Rubio has two years remaining on his contract with DKV Joventut Badalona, his professional team in Spain, and has yet to be able to negotiate down a buyout number that is at least $6.6 million.
"I believe his representatives are working diligently to get a solution. I have no idea at this point whether a solution can be reached. But I believe we kind of know what the parameters are and I think that we have a chance," Kahn said Monday after announcing that Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis will be the team's next head coach. "But I wouldn't even begin to state the percentage toward that chance of this being accomplished this season versus next season or even two seasons. It's still very problematic."
The Timberwolves selected Rubio with the No. 5 pick in the June draft, right before choosing another point guard in Jonny Flynn at No. 6. But they can only contribute $500,000 toward the buyout under NBA rules, which handicaps their ability to convince an 18-year-old kid who made just $97,000 to make a huge financial commitment to chase his dream in the league.
After watching other teams in Spain submit much larger buyout offers to Joventut, Kahn said that NBA limit may need to be re-examined at some point.
"The buyout amount is a very steep amount," he said. "Unfortunately for us, the Timberwolves, we have to play this with one hand tied behind our back."
There was talk initially that Rubio did not want to play in the chilly, small market in Minnesota. But Kahn, who traveled to Spain to meet with Rubio's family and officials from Joventut, echoed comments made by owner Glen Taylor last week that that is not the case.
Kahn called the buyout element "the singular issue" that is preventing Rubio from joining the Wolves.
Rubio is training with the Spanish national team, and Kahn reiterated his stance that the rebuilding Wolves can "think of a lot worse things than we have to wait a year or two."
He also clarified his position on playing Flynn and Rubio together with the Timberwolves. When he drafted the point guards back-to-back in June, Kahn said he saw the two playing off each other much the way Detroit's smaller backcourt of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars did with the Pistons.
Skeptics wondered how that would work with Flynn and Rubio, two players that rely more on dribble-drive penetration than outside shooting and excel when the ball is in their hands.
But Kahn said Monday that both should expect to play heavy minutes right from the start, though not necessarily at the same time during the games.
"You can very easily come up with a scenario where both Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn would play approximately 30-32 minutes and be on the floor together for a grand total of about 16 minutes," Kahn said. "I think that there's kind of been this sense that they can't play together and people are saying like for the whole game.
"That's never been the vision. They can't possibly play together the whole game and they're not ready to play together the whole game."
Instead, Kahn sees the two point guards as the one-two punch in a fastbreak attack under Rambis, the former member of the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s.
"With one kid 18 and one 20, it probably would be a mistake to play either of them minutes in the mid to high 30s," Kahn said. "They're probably not ready to do that, especially at that position."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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