Notes: International offers could complicate Rubio's Wolves future
The Ricky Rubio camp doesn't see how he fits on the same team as Jonny Flynn
The Spanish point guard could get leverage on Timberwolves with overseas offers
More notes: Future of Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress; Nets move on from Vince
The Ricky Rubio saga has been a maze of twists and turns as Minnesota and Rubio decide the best course of action. Based on conversations with league sources this week, here's what we know about the Ricky Rubio saga: The 18-year-old badly wants to play in the NBA, a desire that only grew stronger while he had a limited role with his Spanish club, DKV Joventut. But he does not want to play with fellow point guard Jonny Flynn.
That's not a knock on Flynn, whom Minnesota picked sixth after selecting Rubio fifth in last Thursday's draft. It's just that Rubio can't envision a scenario in which he and Flynn play together, as Minnesota general manager David Kahn suggested on draft night. Not when Rubio is a 6-foot-5 beanpole that a stiff breeze could knock over and Flynn is about 6 feet.
Does Kahn want Rubio? Absolutely. He nearly made a deal that would have moved Minnesota up to No. 2 to draft him. Is he afraid that Rubio's buyout -- which increased from $4.4 million to $4.9 million after Rubio was drafted in the top seven -- will prevent Minnesota's top pick from playing in the NBA next season? Yes to that, too.
Flynn is Kahn's insurance policy. The former Syracuse star is as NBA-ready as any point guard in the draft. He could easily win a starting job on a team that recently gutted its backcourt.
But Rubio's camp is not about to put Rubio in a minutes-sharing situation with Flynn. It wants Flynn gone, and it has come to the bargaining table with a pretty big stick: the possibility that Rubio could sign a lucrative contract in Europe.
Kahn sounds prepared for that. He has said all the right things, praising Rubio and his agent, the high-powered Dan Fegan, and talking about how he looks forward to the day when Rubio is in a Minnesota uniform. If that's this season, great. If it's next season, well, that's OK, too. Even two years is within Kahn's time frame.
But there is a factor that may be getting overlooked. According to sources close to the situation, top European teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Tau Ceramica have been coming hard after Rubio. And there is a real chance that one of those teams will be willing to make the popular Spaniard the highest-paid player in Europe.
The catch is that the teams pursuing Rubio don't want him for one or two years; they want a three- or four-year commitment. And they may get one. In four years, Rubio will be only 22. He will not only be stronger but also richer thanks to a multimillion dollar contract from a club that could potentially pay most or all of his buyout (the most an NBA team can contribute is $500,000). It's hard to see a downside.
That leaves the Timberwolves with a choice: Do they run the risk of Rubio's signing an overseas deal that could potentially keep him out of Minnesota until 2013? Or do they trade Flynn and hope that Rubio can negotiate his buyout down to a more manageable number? Tough call. Stay tuned.
Hedo's next home
Orlando's acquisition of Vince Carter last week all but closed the door on Hedo Turkoglu's return. But Turkoglu, who averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season, should have plenty of suitors. League sources said Portland, Detroit and Toronto are possible landing spots for the Turkish small forward, who will be looking for a raise after opting out of a $7.3 million contract with Orlando next season.
"I think the market for Hedo will be robust," said Turkoglu's agent, Lon Babby. "He's a unique player."
The Raptors' interest hinges on what they do with forward Shawn Marion, an unrestricted free agent who is seeking a multiyear deal. The Raptors are prepared to offer Marion the full mid-level exception over four years, according to sources, but Marion is seeking a deal worth $7 million to $9 million per season. He made $17.8 million last season.
Who's playing point in Philly?
Sixers GM Ed Stefanski is preparing to meet with representatives for free agent point guard Andre Miller in the next few days.
"We're going to sit down and talk and try to work out a deal that makes sense," Stefanski said.
While re-signing Miller is certainly a priority for Stefanski -- the depth chart behind the 10-year veteran is combo guard Louis Williams and rookie Jrue Holiday -- the Sixers may not necessarily need a traditional point guard to be successful. New coach Eddie Jordan likes to use a two-guard lineup that stresses ball movement and de-emphasizes the need for one ball-controlling playmaker. In Washington, Jordan paired Gilbert Arenas with Larry Hughes for three seasons and later teamed Arenas with swingman Caron Butler and Antonio Daniels.
Nets' Frank back to the drawing board
Nets coach Lawrence Frank squeezed 34 victories and a midseason playoff push out of his undermanned team last season. Now, in the final season of his contract, Frank will face an even taller task trying to win without Vince Carter, who was traded to Orlando for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie.
"The bottom line is Vince is great player, a very underrated player," Frank said. "He was probably the best passer on the team and he understood the game at a very high level."
Beyond replacing Carter's production (20.8 points and 4.7 assists last season), the Nets will need to address their new leadership void. Several players commented during the team's exit meetings that Carter was the reason they didn't crumble at the end of the season.
All-Star point guard Devin Harris would seem the most likely candidate to assume Carter's role, but Frank is hoping that leadership comes from several players.
Frank expects to tinker with a new offensive system this summer. After revamping the offense to maximize the strengths of Carter and Harris last season, Frank said he anticipates making second-year center Brook Lopez a "focal point" and is hoping that with so many players in the last year of their contracts (as many as eight could be free agents next summer), he will get a maximum effort every night.
"Lamar Odom was in a contract year last year and he came off the bench," Frank said. "That worked out pretty well. Now, the question is if players will accept roles on a team that is retooling."
As far as his own contract, Frank said he is not concerned.
"This organization has been good to me," Frank said. "The moves they made were the right moves. We got a good young player in Courtney Lee and salary-cap flexibility. That's only going to help our future."
Olympiakos forward Josh Childress has yet to decide whether he will stay in Greece or return to the NBA next season, according to his agent, Lon Babby. The former Hawk has until July 15 to opt out of his contract. According to Babby, Childress enjoyed playing overseas and would have no hesitation about remaining there another year. If Childress does sign an offer sheet with another NBA team, the Hawks retain the right to match the offer.
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