Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Ricky Rubio Situation

A lot of fanfare is being made out of the fact that Ricky Rubio is not going to be coming to NBA and play with the Timberwolves this year after all. Many are blaming David Kahn for the situation. Personally, I think that's shortsighted. The only upside in my mind to him coming over now would have been drawing more fans. Maybe that would be a good thing, but for the future of the Wolves, I think Rubio developing for another couple years in Spain is fine.

Let's be honest, the Wolves aren't making the playoffs next year, and probably not the year after that either. So what is it setting them back? If they find out what they have in Flynn, they're that much further along. Many, such as The Sports Guy have been pretty down on Kahn. Simmons recently posted on Twitter, "Hey Kahn defenders: You think a team that's BLEEDING MONEY wanted to bottom out again, take on bad salaries & wait 2 yrs for Rubio? Really?" This was the latest in several posts directed at Kahn's maneuvering. I disagree, and so here's what I wrote The Sports Guy:

Okay Bill,
We need you to write a little further on this Timberwolves situation. As a fan (yes, I know that makes me biased) I think you're being a little harsh in regard to their draft results.

I'm with you in thinking Kahn deserved to be questioned based on his lack of experience. But now that we have him, let's see what happens.

You've said yourself (in the New Yorker): "Just play your best five or six guys and figure the rest out later. In the old days, nobody gave a crap about positions." You've also said that teams in the draft should take the best available player and not draft for need. So why so down on the Wolves for taking the two players they thought were the best left on the draft board? You've said yourself that you like both Rubio and Flynn. And based on the LV league, I think I'd still rather have Flynn than Curry. Are both players PG? Yes. But how disastrous would it be to play two great PGs together? Would a team be terrible if they played Chris Paul and Deron Williams together with a great wing, a great inside scorer, and a great rebounder?

What if Rubio and Flynn are nearly as good as the aforementioned? With a good shooter on the wing (Ellington) and the scorer and rebounder extraordinaire inside (Jefferson and Love), how far away are you from being a legit presence in the league?
I can think of much worse combinations. And further, if Rubio or Flynn do not pan out, you are still not in bad shape. I think the Wolves thought, and I think correctly so, we're not good enough to draft for need, let's take the best players available, and in a couple years, figure out which parts to keep in order to turn this thing into a championship.

I'd further note that I have to agree with what what Ken Berger of CBSSports observes in regard to the situation:

So Rubio will mature and get better -- albeit against sub-NBA competition -- and Kahn's team will begin the rebuilding process with a very capable point guard in Flinn. Can the two play together in the same backcourt in 2011-12? Time will tell. But in the meantime, Kahn moves forward with a formidable asset in Rubio. Even if he never plays a single game in Minnesota.

Kahn is quickly becoming the most mysterious executive in the NBA, tearing a page straight from the book written by his mentor, Donnie Walsh. He is humorless and needs to brush up on his people skills -- despite the fact that he's a former member of the media. (Maybe this explains why he is a former member.) But I'll give him credit for this much: It took a certain amount of gumption to welcome a controversy like this with the very first and most important decision of his regime. Whether it ultimately works out or not is very much an unknown. Say Kahn is in over his head if you want; you might ultimately be correct. But I have no problem giving Kahn credit for being unafraid of Fegan and all the contractual entanglements that came with Rubio. Enjoy Barcelona, Ricky. See you in 2011.

What are your thoughts?


Greg said...

I read an article not too long ago that ranked NBA cities based on how desirable they were to free agents. I think Minnesota finished last (or at least bottom 3). So, unfortunately, that right there is a big obstacle for the Timberwolves as a franchise.

As for Rubio, well, this situation seems like a mess for Minnesota. I think their rights to Rubio expire in 3 years, so really, 2 years from now he'll likely have a lot more leverage to force a trade to a team and situation that he finds more desirable.

Even so, it's still possible that neither Flynn nor Rubio ever blossom into NBA All-Stars. I remember several years ago the Clips drafted an 18-year old point guard named Shaun Livingston whom some scouts compared to Magic Johnson... whoops.

One last thing... to your point about two great PG's coexisting on the same team. My feeling is that point guard is the most difficult position to have two of on the court at one time. It just seems unnatural. ;-)

Greg said...

Okay, so I read one article that said Minnesota has the NBA rights to Rubio for one year beyond his Barcelona contract--and another article that said his Barcelona contract is for 6 years. So does that mean Minnesota has the rights to Rubio for 7 years? In that case, forget what I said about Rubio having more leverage in 2 years...

Chairman said...

Westy - All of this depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a team that could be fun to watch and make the playoffs, you can excuse Kahn. But if you have Rubio and Flynn, you're starting off in a hole on defense, and probably won't be able to dig out. Your Paul/D-Will example is a bad one, because those guys can both defend, and D-Will can be put up against 2's.

If you put 6'4" Wayne Ellington out there w/ Rubio and Flynn, you're well on your way to giving up 120 points a game, and winning roughly 25 games.

Of course, at some point Rubio should hit puberty, so maybe he can maybe grow up and guard some 2's.

Westy said...

You're right, Mr. Thug, that defense is an important consideration. But I think Flynn has the potential to be pretty decent on D.

And Greg, the Wolves have Rubio's rights forever. No time limit.

Greg said...

No time limit. Well, that is interesting.

Another thought on Kahn's Rubio/Flynn draft is that he only has to hit on one of them in my book. If either of them becomes an All-Star/quality starter for Minnesota, then I'll give Kahn good marks for this draft.

I'm guessing that most fans don't like the idea of missing on a #5 or #6 pick, but the reality is that if you have both of those picks and one of them comes through for you, then you've done well. Look at the Bulls in 2004 with the #3 and #7 picks. They took Gordon and Deng... neither became All-Stars. A few years later the Bulls also had the #2 and #16 picks... they took Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha... again, not difference makers (yet).

And Westy, yeah, I definitely can't knock Kahn for passing up on Curry. I've always thought he was overhyped--almost as much as Adam "Kobe, Thanks for the Ring" Morrison.

Chairman said...

Westy - Flynn appears to be able to compete, and should do OK against points (maybe not the big power point guards). But either one at the 2? You'd better have some elite defenders on the interior.

Greg - Honestly, I think that I prefer Curry to Flynn. I don't know if I buy into Flynn's game as a point. With Curry, you know what you're going to get at the very least. And he's got some playmaking upside.

Also, I'd argue that to get Gordon and Deng is a relatively successful draft - two legit starters who are borderline all-stars.

Westy said...

I'd take Flynn over Curry.

And I'm definitely not sold on Gordon as a "borderline" All Star.

I guess I'm not a huge fan of chuckers.

Chairman said...

re: Flynn over Curry. I can't say that I've watched a ton of Flynn. But I think that Curry's competitiveness and playmaking ability is undersold.

My initial impression of Gordon was very negative. But as I've watched the Bulls the last couple years, I've grown to like his game more. He shoots a ton, but his shots are generally in the flow of the offense - lots of catch and shoot. He's not like John Salmons who kills the motion of the offense by dribbling and looking for only himself. Now, Gordon's too small to be a great defender. But he's definitely a clutch scorer.

Greg said...

Also, I'd argue that to get Gordon and Deng is a relatively successful draft

Yeah, I think that 2004 was a pretty good draft for the Bulls. It was better than most of their drafts. (And by the way, overall, I think Paxson was a decent GM for the Bulls.)

Regarding Deng, back in the 2007 I thought he had an All-Star future in front of him. But it seems like injuries (and maybe pressure) have dogged him the past two years. I hope he can stay healthy and be a legit starter this year, but time will tell.

As for Gordon, hey, I'm not down on the guy. In fact, I think he'd be a great pitchman for Southwest Airlines...

Chairman said...

Westy - looks like you got your wish for a tiny starting lineup w/ Ramon Sessions and Jonny Flynn in the backcourt. If they go uptempo, they could be fun to watch, especially if you don't associate winning with fun.