Two years ago, Spanish basketball phenom Ricky Rubio declared for the NBA draft after spending four seasons playing for the DKV Joventut in the Spanish ACB League. Two months after making his announcement, the Minnesota Timberwolves traded for the fifth pick in the 2009 draft and chose the point guard, assuming that the dynamic player would lead the franchise as Kevin Garnett had earlier in the decade.
Fast forward to 2011 and Rubio has yet to play a single game for the T'Wolves due to monetary concerns regarding a potential buyout. According to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, though, it appears that Rubio will finally be in uniform for Minnesota for the 2011-12 NBA season.
Rubio, who was under contract with Joventut when drafted, had a buyout clause worked into his DKV contract. Considering Rubios apparent desire to stay in Spain and the Timberwolves' legitimate inability to pay the buyout — the buyout was rumored to be worth $6-8 million; the NBA prohibits teams from spending more than $500,000 on buyouts — the young guard ultimately played with FC Barcelona, who could afford the buyout, from 2009-2011.
"The reason leading me to [stay in Spain] is to have a period of preparation to better take the challenge of the NBA in better conditions as a player," Rubio said at the time, "The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to be my first option and I wish to play with them in the near future."
"Of course there?s disappointment," Minnesota general manager David Kahn had said, "but I don't think that disappointment should overshadow the big picture, which is, he's still so young. It appears now we will have a two-year wait. But if you frame it as he'll be 20 years old and he'll have two more years to develop, I can think of a lot worse things to happen to us a franchise."
As Wojnarowski reported, there was a Tuesday deadline for Rubio to sign with Minnesota under the current rookie scale of the current CBA. It was not clear whether Rubio literally signed any contracts, but under the current CBA, Rubio will still be subject to a rookie salary.
"It's unclear whether Rubio signed agreement on Tuesday, or merely promised to exercise his Spanish buyout on July 1 and then sign with Minny," Wojnarowski said in a tweet, "Nevertheless, Ricky Rubio has committed to joining the NBA and playing for Minnesota in the 2011-12 season."
Rubio would join All-Star big man Kevin Love on a young, talented roster that also features former No. 2 pick Michael Beasley and No. 4 pick Wesley Johnson. Current starting point guard Jonny Flynn, who was taken by Minnesota one pick after Rubio in 2009, has been rumored to be on his way out.
Rubio, who turns 21 in October, averaged 6.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 1.6 steals in close to 23 minutes per game for Barcelona in the Euroleague this past season.