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Tag:Timberwolves
Posted on: August 31, 2009 8:52 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2009 11:21 pm
 

No surprise: Rubio staying overseas (UPDATE)

It took David Kahn three trips to Spain to learn what he essentially already knew: Ricky Rubio will remain overseas for two more years.

That much seemed apparent on draft night, when Rubio expressed as little enthusiasm for playing in Minnesota as a human being could possibly express. Kahn, the house-cleaning GM of the Timberwolves, knew when he selected Rubio with the fifth pick that having him on the roster this season was a long shot. So it goes.

Yahoo! Sports first reported Monday night that Rubio and agent Dan Fegan have agreed to a six-year deal with Regal FC Barcelona. It was the Barcelona club -- and not Kahn's Timberwolves -- that after weeks of uncertainty was able to negotiate a buyout with Rubio's Spanish team, JKV Joventut, a high-level coaching source confirmed to CBSSports.com. Naturally, there is an out clause in Rubio's deal with Barcelona after two years. This means that the T-Wolves are going to have to do exactly what Kahn said on draft night he was willing to do: Wait until Rubio is 20 years old before seeing him in Minnesota.

So if nothing else, at least the Rubio situation is resolved. At least the T-Wolves can move forward with a perfectly good explanation for drafting point guard Jonny Flynn one pick after Rubio. Say what you want about Kahn -- and plenty have and will continue to -- but he didn't budge from his draft night premise that he was willing to wait a couple of years for Rubio. 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.



Category: NBA
Posted on: August 10, 2009 11:56 am
 

Rambis on board; Rubio next?

Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis is finalizing contract details to become the Timberwolves' next head coach, with the agreement expected to be signed Tuesday, according to a person involved in the negotiations.

Good for Rambis. In his only other opportunity to sit in the first seat on an NBA bench, he was merely keeping it warm for Phil Jackson. This will be Rambis' show, and the opportunity is well deserved.

But Rambis' hiring will be overshadowed by the Ricky Rubio soap opera until a resolution occurs. Will Rambis be coaching Rubio or not? Well, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Monday that the door is "wide open" for Rubio to join the T-Wolves rather than stay in Europe for the 2009-10 season. Otherwise, Rubio's Spanish team, JKV Joventut, already would've announced his transfer to another European club by now.

Rambis is optimistic that a buyout agreement can be reached that would clear the way for Rubio to join the T-Wolves this coming season. Perhaps Rubio's camp simply wanted to see who would be coaching him in Minnesota before proceeding aggressively to negotiate his release. Either way, it is extremely doubtful that Rambis would've agreed to take over in Minnesota if he thought there was a chance that the Rubio situation would mar his tenure.

Of course, with every piece of good news comes a piece of bad news when you're an NBA coach. Even if things go smoothly and Rubio is on hand for training camp, Rambis will be the one to decide who starts at point guard: Jonny Flynn or Rubio?

Category: NBA
Posted on: August 6, 2009 11:30 am
 

Rambis favorite for T-Wolves job

Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis has traveled to Minnesota to meet for a third time with Timberwolves officials about the team's long-vacant head coaching job. A person with direct knowledge of the talks confirmed that Rambis has emerged as the favorite to succeed Kevin McHale and is awaiting a formal contract proposal.

The T-Wolves, led by new GM David Kahn, have undertaken a thorough and painstaking process to name a replacement for McHale, who left the organization amid disagreements with Kahn about how to remake the roster. Kahn interviewed a laundry list of current assistant coaches for the job, illustrating the T-Wolves' unsurprising efforts to minimize the cost of a head coaching hire. The list was recently narrowed to three candidates: Rambis, ESPN/ABC analyst Mark Jackson, and Rockets assistant Elston Turner.

Minnesota's coaching search has been sidetracked this summer by Kahn's efforts to broker a buyout with No. 5 overall pick Ricky Rubio's Spanish team, DKV Joventut. Kahn and T-Wolves owner Glen Taylor met with Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, last month at Las Vegas Summer League, and Kahn also traveled to Spain in an effort to broker a deal. While Fegan attempts to secure endorsement deals for Rubio that would help fund his buyout -- the T-Wolves can contribute only $500,000 under NBA rules -- Joventut reportedly is weighing whether to accept a buyout or sell his contract to another European team, which could be more lucrative.

Rambis, who helped coach the Lakers to their 15th NBA title in June, has emerged as the favorite partly due to Fegan's fondness for him -- the theory being that hiring a coach Rubio finds acceptable would enhance the chances of the 18-year-old point guard reporting to Minnesota rather than continuing to play overseas.

Rambis going to Minnesota would essentially clear a path for Lakers assistant Brian Shaw to become Phil Jackson's right-hand man on the Lakers' bench and eventually succeed Jackson when he retires.

 
Posted on: July 13, 2009 11:22 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2009 11:42 pm
 

Rubio camp meets with T-Wolves owner

LAS VEGAS -- Ricky Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, met with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor Monday to get acquainted and attempt to resolve the logjam that has the Spanish point guard almost certainly headed back to Spain for at least a year or two.

Nothing was decided at two separate meetings at the COX Pavilion during summer league play, and a resoolution is not imminent, according to a person familiar with the meetings. Minnesota thus far has resisted any overtures aimed at trading Rubio to a team that he'd be willing to join immediately.

Timberwolves GM David Kahn reiterated that he is prepared to be "extremely patient" with Rubio, "even if it means waiting a year or two." Rubio, 18, decided after Minnesota draft him that he preferred to return to his Spanish team rather than negotiate a buyout. All the Timberwolves can contribute to the buyout, according to the collective bargaining agreement, is $500,000. The buyout in his contract with DKV Joventut originally was for $6.6 million, but recent reports have placed it closer to the $4 million range.

The T-Wolves, who also drafted point guard Jonny Flynn, of course would retain Rubio's rights while he is playing overseas. He would be 20 years old and more experience when he eventually returned to the NBA.


Category: NBA
Posted on: July 2, 2009 12:55 am
 

Avery in driver's seat

With word Wednesday night that Doug Collins has removed his name from consideration for the Pistons' head coaching job, Avery Johnson has emerged as the clear favorite to succeed Michael Curry in Detroit.

As he did with the Sixers' job earlier this offseason, Collins flirted with the idea of returning to the sideline but ultimately couldn't resist staying in the relatively blissful world of basketball broadcasting. All in all, that's good for basketball fans because I think Collins is as good as it gets when it comes to NBA color commentators. A little over the top sometimes, but outstanding nonetheless.

So after Collins informed Pistons president Joe Dumars that he was no longer pursuing the job, a source familiar with the situation confirmed, it is now clearly Johnson's job to lose. The former Mavericks coach makes sense on so many levels. Dumars has stated that he wants a more experienced coach. Johnson was a winner in Dallas, and by now he's had time to reflect on some of the things he did wrong -- primarily being too rigid. The third box the Pistons can check off is that Johnson is still getting paid by the Mavericks next season, so he comes at a discount. For similar reasons, I believe Sam Mitchell will get the job in Minnesota. Dollars and cents and past success equals a new opportunity for both. Stay here for updates.

Posted on: June 27, 2009 1:23 am
 

Rubio to Knicks? "No"

Reading between the lines is a favorite pastime when it comes to the Knicks. Anything remotely resembling a clue that the NBA's supposed flagship franchise might acquire one of basketball's hottest commodities results in endless speculation, twisted interpretation, and innuendo.

See the entry under James, LeBron.

Now see the new entry under Rubio, Ricky.

Meeting with the media at the Knicks' Westchester County training facility on Friday, team president Donnie Walsh mentioned that he planned to call his former employee, Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn, to find out why he drafted so many point guards. And yes, Walsh coyly stated, Rubio's cold response to being drafted by the 'Wolves and his probable return to Spain as a result would be discussed.

I shudder at the thought of viewing the back pages of the New York tabloids on Saturday. For one, it's my first day off in a long time. For another, Rubio most certainly will be pictured there. If not for Michael Jackson, Rubio might be on the front page.

As I tried to tell you on draft night, there's no need for this. Kahn isn't trading Rubio. He's not going to be a Knick, no matter how much agent Dan Fegan wants him to be. This should be the end of it.

Except ...

Hot items like Rubio have a long shelf life in the basketball-starved New York news cycle. And yes, things change. Circumstances change. People have a right to change their minds. But as of now, Kahn believes in Rubio so much that he's willing to wait a year or two for him to come out of exile in Spain. And the Knicks like their first-round pick, Jordan Hill, just fine.

"Kahn thinks Rubio is the best point ever," a knowledgeable, high-level basketball source told me. And the Knicks? Coach Mike D'Antoni, the person said, "loves Hill. Both stay put."

Just to make sure, I asked the same person early Saturday if anything had changed or was expected to change based on Walsh's planned conversation with Kahn.

"No," he said.

OK, then.

But just to satisfy the endless thirst for a splashy move by the Knicks, what is the best they could offer Minnesota in such a deal? Not Hill, but restricted free agent David Lee, who has received a qualifying offer from the Knicks and can be signed-and-traded after the league and NBA Players Association agree on the 2009-10 salary cap and luxury  tax in mid-July. Last time I checked, the Timberwolves have Al Jefferson. No disrespect to Lee, but Jefferson is better.

Yes, things change and circumstances change. And people have the right to change their minds. But as another high-level basketball source (note sarcasm) said as one of the media availability sessions ended during the NBA Finals: "Move along. There's nothing to see here."





Posted on: June 25, 2009 8:56 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2009 1:19 am
 

Amare talks heating up; Minny dealing?

Discussions between the Suns and Warriors about a trade that would send Amare Stoudemire to Golden State were advancing Thursday night, two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com.

Key components of the deal were still coming into focus, but both people -- one a rival executive and the other a person with knowledge of the Warriors' plans -- said the talks were serious enough for contract negotiations between Stoudemire and the Warriors to commence.

A trade sending Stoudemire to the Warriors would explain Golden State's selection of yet another combo guard, leaving open the possibility that new GM Larry Riley selected Stephen Curry for the Suns.

UPDATE: However, contrary to logic, another executive said the Warriors are keeping Curry. The pieces going to Phoenix, the executive said, would be Andris Biedrins, Marco Belinelli, and Brandan Wright. The deal can't go through until July 1, and Stoudemire needs to agree to a contract extension with Golden State, which can't be signed until July 8.

In another possible resolution to a curious draft night development, an Eastern Conference GM said there was growing belief among team executives that the Timberwolves were looking to trade one of the two point guards they selected with the fifth and sixth picks. Speculation immediately centered around the Knicks, although this executive was not familiar with a scenario that would send a package including No. 8 pick Jordan Hill to Minnesota for Rubio. More on that as it evolves.

UPDATE: A high-level source familiar with the organizational strategy of both the Knicks and Timberwolves has told CBSSports.com that Rubio is staying in Minnesota and Hill in New York. T-Wolves GM David Kahn could not be higher on Rubio, and the Knicks' brass loves Hill for the interior toughness he will bring. The Rubio-to-New York speculation isn't true.

UPDATE: Or at least it's not true from the standpoint of it actually happening. Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, would like it to be true. But Kahn is holding his ground and holding onto Rubio, setting up a showdown with a player who could opt to stay in Spain for a couple of years rather than freeze his culito off in Minnesota.

Posted on: June 25, 2009 4:16 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2009 7:21 pm
 

Draft Buzz: Celtics pursue No. 2 pick (UPDATE)

It's three hours and counting until the Clippers are on the clock, so here's another dose of buzz and other tidbits. A caveat: This late in the game is when some of the most scurrilous subterfuge is pawned off -- not only on reporters, but on the executives and other high-level people who provide information to reporters. It gets harder and harder to see through all the smoke, but here's the latest of what my sources are hearing:

* All has been quiet in Memphis, but it appears the Grizzlies remain open to trading the No. 2 pick. At least one Eastern Conference team that believes Tyreke Evans is the best of the point-guard crop is knocking on the door. This presents quite a conundrum for Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace, who knows that the franchise can't afford to have Evans -- a U of Memphis product -- to leave the city and go on to a star-studded NBA career.

UPDATE: Two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com that one of the teams inquiring about the No. 2 pick is the Celtics, who currently have no first-round picks. The notion was first floated Thursday in the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. Boston's target, the two people said, would be Evans, described by one of the sources as "a Danny Ainge type of player." The question, as mentioned above, is whether Memphis would be willing to risk Evans leaving the city where he played college ball and finding glory and championships in Boston. More developments coming on this one.

* While Oklahoma City has been the favorite to land Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio, not so fast, says one rival exec who believes Thunder GM Sam Presti is hoping Hasheem Thabeet is available with the third pick. If he is, that would present a raging debate for the Sacramento front office among Rubio, James Harden, and Evans (if he's still available) with the No. 4 pick.

* The latest on Minnesota, which holds the fifth and sixth picks, is that the Timberwolves might keep those picks and take two guards -- one of them being Stephen Curry, which would apparently be a shot to the Knicks' collective solar plexus. Or not. (See below.) The Wolves, according to one source, are considering Curry along with one of the truer point guards (Rubio or Jonny Flynn, for example) because they believe Curry would thrive in a combo role with his shooting and scoring gifts.

* Depending on what Golden State does -- another point guard to join the two mediocre ones they just acquired from the Hawks? -- the Knicks wouldn't be in as much of a quandary as most people thought if Curry were off the board by the time they picked eighth. One rival exec insists that the player they really like is Jordan Hill, who would be the rugged power-forward they've lacked for years. Most of the buzz surrounding the Knicks has centered on Curry, with some observers still believing they like Rubio more than they've let on.

UPDATE: The Knicks also like Gerald Henderson for his ball-moving skills, perhaps as a fallback option if they can't get Curry or Hill. A person familiar with Hill's situation said he would go to the Warriors at No. 7

* The Knicks reportedly have acquired the Lakers' 29th overall pick in exchange for cash and a future second-rounder.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com