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Ricky Rubio

You might have noticed a new ID pic on my column. Better judgment forced me to change the previous one as it looks like I’m still at pre-school with that photo. That pic was almost ten years old and I started writing for this paper five years ago. Now at least, you can estimate how old I am. Agay..

The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Spanish teeny bopper point guard Ricky Rubio at number five overall at this year’s NBA draft. However, his eventual playing with the Wolves is still shaky as there are problems with the $8.6M buyout from his mother club, DKV Joventut Badalona, Rubio’s pro team in the Spanish basketball league.

As per NBA rules, Minnesota is only allowed to spend a maximum of $500,000 and with other Spanish teams submitting much larger buyout offers for Rubio, the Wolves are in a fix. Personally, why would they insist on paying big money to an untested point guard, granting that he has been playing pro ball in Euro leagues for four years. Chris Paul and Deron Williams will make Spanish sashimi out of Rubio. But the normal spending done by NBA teams almost always defies common logic.

Who is this Rubio guy? Ricky started playing pro ball at the age of 14 with DKV Joventut, becoming the youngest player in Spain’s 50-year old national basketball league. At 15, he played for Spain’s European U-16 championship squad, producing three triple doubles and a quadruple double. This included the 51 points, 24 rebounds, 12 assists and 7 steals he recorded in the finals versus Russia that went double overtime. In this game, he hit a half court three that sent the game to its first overtime.

The High School Musical-type Rubio, at 17, was named to Spain’s Senior Mens National Team, replacing injured starter Jose Calderon at point in the gold medal game against Team USA. We all saw the game and in the 30 minutes or so that he was inside the court, he was impressive.

Rubio is quick and has the ability to easily steal the ball from opponents and he spaces the floor well. It would be nice to see him play against the NBA’s elite guards and see how he fares.

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At 18, he should have graduated from high school by now. Aside from school, he goes to practice with Joventut, endorses Nike and McDonald’s in commercials and does any other thing boys his age does.

His Spanish national teammates, Pau Gasol and Rudy Fernandez are optimistic Rubio will make good in the NBA. It’s this buyout thing that makes matters difficult. But I think there was an NBA rule that kind of limits rookie’s age to 19 and to Rubio is only 18. Is that rule still enforced?

If he does ultimately play with the Wolves, he will be paired with another rookie point guard, Johnny Flynn, who was taken at number six overall. Picking point guards back-to-back, Minnesota President David Kahn see the same situation similar to Detroit’s small backcourt duo of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars in the 80’s.

Kurt Rambis, Minnesota’s new head coach will have a bunch of youngsters to build and start the team over. Rambis has unquestionable work ethics and his focus will be on defense. Al Jefferson and Kevin Love will be the core of this young team including the two rookie point guards. Getting the Wolves back to respectability will be Rambis’ focus and he hopes to bring them back to the playoffs, where they have been out since 2004. Maybe they can also improve on their 24-win record last season.

Rambis in, Kevin McHale out. Is this some kind of payback for that famously highlighted clothesline during the 1984 Finals against the Celtics? Laker nation will miss you Kurt, and just maybe, he will be back in LA when the Zen Master retires.

E-mail me at bobbytoohotty@lycos.com   (THE FREEMAN)

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