3 reasons why Ricky Rubio is a perfect fit with the Minnesota Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio is coming back to the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Ricky Rubio is coming back to the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio is coming back to the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

During the 2020 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Ricky Rubio. Not only is it a fell-good story, but Rubio is a perfect fit with the Wolves.

In case you somehow missed the news, Ricky Rubio is back with the Minnesota Timberwolves, via a draft night trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Yes, it’s a feel-good story. That’s undeniable, and man, does it feel good for the vast majority of Wolves fans.

But it’s also a plenty savvy move for plenty of more tangible reasons, and not simply the public relations win that this will undoubtedly be for the organization.

Let’s take a look at the three main reasons why Rubio is a great fit with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Why Ricky Rubio is perfect for the Minnesota Timberwolves: Fit on the cap sheet

The Timberwolves will need to send out James Johnson in order to match the salaries in this deal. It hasn’t officially been announced because Johnson will need to formally pick-up his player option for next year, but the Wolves surely had this conversation with Johnson already, and he has $16 million reasons to opt in.

Rubio will make exactly $17 million this year and swapping the salaries on the 2021 books is extremely clean.

One of the immediate reactions that detractors of this trade had was related to the fact that Johnson’s contract expires following the 2020-21 season, while Rubio will be paid $17.8 million in 2021-22.

This isn’t a huge deal for a couple of reasons. First, the Wolves wouldn’t have much else in terms of cap space next offseason besides Johnson’s $16 million, and he was always going to get traded at some point this season. As a lower-tier free agent destination, Minnesota would have to be prepared to overpay for starting-caliber players with that space, and there’s no guarantee that they’d find a better situation than having Rubio at $17.8 million in 2021-22.

The only real criticism here is that the Wolves have now sent out their best trade asset in any deal for another big-name superstar. Now, still without any 2021 draft picks, the Wolves trade assets are essentially limited to Anthony Edwards, Jarrett Culver, and Josh Okogie.

The last piece of this is that Rubio is an extremely tradable player. While Wolves fans don’t want to hear that, it’s important to remember that if Minnesota has a chance to land a Bradley Beal or Ben Simmons at some point in the next calendar year, they’ll ship out a package of Edwards, Rubio, draft picks, and whomever else is needed to land that third star.

Let’s look at the immediate on-court impact of adding Rubio.