Timberwolves Rumors: Ricky Rubio ‘readily available’?

February 3, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) moves the ball up court against Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
February 3, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) moves the ball up court against Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

With the latest Timberwolves trade rumor involving Ricky Rubio, we’re finally nearing the point where nearly a quarter of the roster has been floated as a potential trade piece over the past four days.

The deadline is still more than three days away, unfortunately, which means that we’re just getting started.

Our job at Dunking With Wolves is to present you, the reader, with the rumor, and then give our commentary. That’s an important point to note on this one, because it’s a fairly intense ‘rumor’.

And here it is, from Frank Isola at the New York Daily News:

"Zach LaVine was nothing short of spectacular in winning his second straight Slam Dunk title on Saturday and by the end of this week he may win something else; the starting point guard job for the Minnesota Timberwolves.Incumbent Ricky Rubio is readily available and the feeling is that the Spanish guard could be moved prior to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.Phil Jackson is in the market for a point guard but it’s hard to envision the Knicks having the assets to acquire the 25-year-old Rubio, whose season average in points (9.7), assists (8.6) and minutes (30.3) are down this year."

Another trade deadline, another iffy trade rumor centered around Ricky Rubio.

Here’s what ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson said about the prospect of a Rubio trade from way back on Thursday, before Isola posted the above rumor on Sunday evening:

First, on if this is a legitimate rumor. My take: the Knicks called the Wolves to ask about Rubio, and Milt Newton listened to the call. No surprise, that’s simply the general manager’s job.

Of course, Isola’s next instinct was to (rightfully) mention that it’s “hard to envision the Knicks having the assets” to acquire Rubio. And this is no doubt what New York found out after placing the call.

Who leaked the information? Either someone on the Knicks side or Rubio’s agent, who has certainly stirred up some rumors in the past. There’s always been a dynamic that Rubio himself has been more than happy to stay in Minnesota but his agents see the bright lights of stardom in an international city and want him moved.

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The idea that Rubio is ‘readily available’ seems to be a bit strong; a G.M. simply would be doing their due diligence if they didn’t listen to a phone call from another organization.

Now, is it possible that the Timberwolves pull the trigger on a Rubio trade? Sure, if they’re blown away. But consider the fact that he’s undoubtedly a top-three player on the roster (he’s probably second-best after Karl-Anthony Towns, but Andrew Wiggins’ perception and ceiling makes him the consensus second-best on the team) and the team has looked utterly lost over the past couple of years without him on the floor.

Add in how affordable his contract is with the rising cap (Rubio is in the first year of a four-year, $55 million deal) and his synergistic fit with Towns and Wiggins and he should be nigh untradeable.

And there’s also this, noted by Kurt Helin of NBC.com’s Pro Basketball Talk, emphasis added:

"…it’s going to take a heck of an offer to pry him out of Minnesota. It also is believed by most around the league that the Timberwolves will replace coach Sam Mitchell this summer, and whomever the new coach ends up being may want to have some input who the point guard of the team should be."

It’s an astute point. If the Timberwolves are planning to replace Mitchell, a pass-first, low-maintenance point guard on an affordable contract heading into his prime years is a key selling point to prospective coaches. Plus, there’s a bit of an ownership wrinkle with Glen Taylor in the process of ceding up to 30 percent ownership stake to a new group.

There’s a lot of folks that would have to okay a Rubio trade, as noted above and pointed out by our friends at Punch-Drunk Wolves.

At any rate, we have to report what’s out there, but don’t count on this happening. If it does, it’s very difficult to see the Knicks as the team with enough assets to cause Newton and Co. to trade Ricky Rubio.

Next: Timberwolves Rumors: Muhammad, Martin, and Miller

Expect more rumors, but don’t overreact. Quite simply, it’s just that time of year.