The Minnesota Timberwolves have pursued trades of starting point guard Ricky Rubio for the past two years and on Friday before free agency began, they finally made their move. The in exchange for Oklahoma City's 2018 first-round pick. The move signals that the Wolves intend to pursue George Hill, Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague or Derrick Rose in free agency, and that the Jazz won't be able to retain Hill, which could impact their ability to re-sign Gordon Hayward.
For the Jazz, they get a starting-caliber point guard known for his passing and defense, but one whose shot has been a liability. The Wolves take a gamble as they continue to remake their team after the trade for Jimmy Butler.
Here's how the trade grades out.
Grade: Incomplete (A-plus-to-B-minus)
The Wolves have been itching to move away from Rubio since Tom Thibodeau arrived. It doesn't make tons of sense, given how good Rubio was defensively the last three years. But they just never felt Rubio was what they needed. Now they dealt him for a first-round pick.
And yet, this is incomplete. Why? Because it depends on who they get to replace him. If they land Kyle Lowry, this is a home run, and incredible get. If it's Jeff Teague, it's trading Rubio for Teague and a pick, when you have to commit big money to Teague at age 29.
Is Teague an outright drop in value for Rubio? Yes. Teague's defense has slipped to a high degree in the past two seasons. Maybe Thibodeau can get the most out of him, but basically you're swapping a great defender and passer for a bad defender and good passer who's a bit more of a shooter.
The pick, however, is great value. If the Wolves land a big upgrade in Lowry or George Hill, this is an A. If they get Teague, it's more like a B-minus, if only because they turned an asset they've struggled to find market for into a pick and a decent replacement option.
This means the Jazz are losing George Hill, and Rubio to Hill is a downgrade. But it's also a good job of managing that loss and getting a starting-caliber guard in replacement.
Rubio will do tremendous things in the Jazz's defensive scheme and find Rudy Gobert for lob after lob. The pick they surrender isn't their own, but a surplus Thunder 2018 pick which will likely be in the 20's.
Rubio can't shoot, that's a problem. He was 44th percentile last year in catch-and-shoot situations, though he was 50th percentile on jump shots. So the Jazz offense could be woeful if they lose Hill and Gordon Hayward. But Rubio fits with the rest of their personnel, and comes at a good price. It's a good deal for Utah.