The Wolves sent Rubio to the Utah Jazz on Friday to clear cap space for a big run in free agency, then moved quickly to reach agreement with free agent point guard Jeff Teague on a three-year, $57 million deal, a person with knowledge of the agreement said.
Drafted by Minnesota with the No. 5 pick in 2009, Rubio spent the first six years of his career with the Wolves, averaging 10.3 points and 8.5 assists. Opponents regularly help off Rubio, which clogs an offense's spacing, and Utah's offense thrives on the ability to space the floor. For that matter, so would retaining just Hayward's cap hold, and even if both Hill and Hayward left, Rudy Gobert's extension kicking in means the Jazz wouldn't likely have as much space as they did Friday, the last day of the 2016-17 league year.
As part of their strategy to retain All-Star Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey and his brain trust have been working the phones in order to secure a high-level floor general before National Basketball Association free agency opens on July 1.
A player more comfortable in the halfcourt, Rubio should fit in well with Quin Snyder's style in Utah.
Well, that and his $14 million per year salary, which obviously comes in significantly lower than the money Hill is seeking - expected to be in the neighborhood of $25-plus million per season. The Rubio Ripple Effect goes further.
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He is a one-time All-Star, an honour which he earned in 2014-15. He's at no risk of injury-related decline. Given Rubio's shooting struggles - he's a career 37.5 shooter overall and 31.5 percent from deep - opponents tend to sag off him and dare him to shoot, but that becomes a less feasible strategy with the likes of Rodney Hood, Alec Burks and perhaps Hayward and/or Ingles surrounding him. Spencer Checketts of The Zone 1280 AM was first with the terms. The pick is top-14 protected.
The Wolves biggest need is shooting, and if Ricky Rubio is not traded (seeming unlikely as the Wolves are seeking better shooting at the position according to former ESPN insider Marc Stein), they will really only have one potential starting spot available at the power forward position.
It's also worth pointing out that the Jazz acquired the Thunder's pick in a 2015 trade involving Enes Kanter, who was months away from a major free-agency payday.
On the negative side though, Rubio's weaknesses have been well-documented for years now.
They started with Teague, a more consistent shooter at point guard than is Rubio, which makes him a better fit for Tom Thibodeau's system.