A lot is happening in the life of Ricky Rubio. The Timberwolves point guard is entering his fourth season in the NBA, and the first without head coach Rick Adelman and sidekick power forward Kevin Love. Replacing Love are players who’re more athletic but less skilled and far less developed. The new narrative surrounding the team has naturally cast Ricky as its next leader.
But the story is more complicated than one young man’s ascension to leadership.
Rubio and his agent Dan Fegan are in a stage of negotiations for a contract extension with the Wolves; the deadline is October 31st. If they don’t strike a deal, Ricky will play this season knowing he will become a (restricted) free agent, next summer.
On top of that off-court distraction, his jump-shooting struggles warranted the hiring of a special shooting coach.
And perhaps most importantly, all of this is happening in the wake of a franchise crossroads where — largely out of necessity — the team is rebuilding around youth instead of seriously competing for a playoff berth. Even though it seems natural that the Wolves will become Ricky Rubio’s team, it might not happen. Rubio was notably absent from the team’s offseason marketing campaign. How he fits into a fresh rebuild remains to be seen, and his future as a player is cloudier than many would have expected a short time ago.
Let’s begin with the “dots”; the issues and factors that surround Rubio as Timberwolves point guard, and then analyze how those dots could be connected for different purposes.
Rubio’s Contract Situation
First of all, Rubio will earn about $4.7 million this season. That much is certain.
The question is what about after this season. Rubio and the Timberwolves have less than three weeks to reach a deal, else they have to wait until next summer when he will be a restricted free agent. The latest report is that the Wolves have offered him the handsome sum of $48 million for a four-year contract. Rubio–almost certainly at the direction of his agent–is demanding a five-year “max” salary. The Wolves are unwilling to give him this deal right now, which almost every pundit agrees is beyond his market value.
This means that Rubio will probably play this upcoming season with an (effectively) expiring contract, and the knowledge that his performance on the court will go a long way in determining his financial and residential future.
Can Ricky Learn to Shoot?