Ricky Rubio threatens to walk

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been on a roll lately — new coach and general manager, a rookie of the year award, and the admiration of some of the NBA’s upper crust media — so it was only a matter of time before something went awry.

Ricky Rubio, a year into a four-year contract, is threatening to leave the team if the Timberwolves don’t make the playoffs next season, according to ESPN (audio here).

“When I arrived to Minnesota, my hope was to break the seven years’ streak without [a] presence in [the] playoffs. I still have that hope, but it’s very tough mentally when year after year that goal is not met,” Rubio told Catalunya Radio, a Spanish radio network.

“Next season will be crucial for me. I’ve been in the NBA for five years, and six years without playoffs would be a long time. At 26, I’d have to start thinking about teams that can get to the playoffs and win in the Finals.”

Rubio’s apparent ultimatum comes as one of the best point guards — that’s Rubio’s position — in the upcoming NBA draft has made it clear he’d like to play in Minnesota. Kris Dunn, however, might not last in the draft long enough to allow the Timberwolves to select him with the fifth pick in the draft.

If the Timberwolves don’t trade Rubio before next season, it could be an awkward season. Minnesota sports fans tend to detest players who don’t want to be here and, at least up to now, Rubio has been a fan favorite.

  • PaulJ

    Maybe if he was a better player the Timberwolves would get into the playoffs.

  • Jeff

    Glad he wants to win. He always puts in the effort, when he’s not hurt. Isn’t this why Garnett left too? We still like him.

    • It’s funny, though, how many reporters and members of the TWolves braintrust were too happy to tell disparaging tales of KG once he left. And then clammed up again when he came back.

      The Chuck Knoblach reaction here is the stuff psychology books would delve into.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    Seems like it wasn’t that long ago that the local basketball literati were calling for the T-Wolves to trade Ricky to anyone who would take him. Ricky better be careful, the new regime might take him up on the threat.

    • I’m not familiar with any knowledgeable basketball fans or writers who wanted Rubio traded to anyone who would take him.

      • Jack Ungerleider

        Since I’m not knowledgeable about basketball I must have mistaken the local wags for people of more knowledge. It seemed to me when he was having trouble scoring (and before we had shooters on the team) there seemed to be a lot of talk about trading him away for a more “complete” point guard.

  • Rob

    With apologies to the dearly departed Purple One: This is the sound, when pampered mega-millionaire sports figures whine

  • I have a feeling that Ricky and Thibs are going to get along great.

  • Matty Lang

    This isn’t a threat. He’s saying he wants to get to the playoffs. The Spanish media always blows his comments out of proportion.

  • lindblomeagles

    If Ricky Rubio wants to get to the NBA Playoffs, here’s a list of things that might get him there: 1) Shoot the ball better, particularly from distance. Although Rubio’s shooting has improved somewhat since coming to Minnesota, team’s don’t fear him because he’s not accurate enough to hit 30, 40, or 50 points in a game. Getting to 20 is a challenge for him. 2) Play defense. Rubio is literally a sieve, especially in the open court. Every talented point guard in the Western Conference (see Golden State, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Memphis, the Los Angeles Clippers, etc.) looks forward to playing against Rubio because they know they can get their own shot anywhere on the court against him. Stop somebody Rubio. Stop somebody. 3) Stay healthy. Rubio is injury prone. Has been ever since he came in the league. If you’re playing all 82 games, you won’t have to worry about your understudy driving the team to another losing season. 4) Be a smarter player. Basketball requires a lot of skill, but at the end of the day, THE POINT GUARD has to take advantage of weak players with their dribbling, passing, AND shooting; has to see mismatches on the floor; and has to anticipate offensive plays the other team is trying to run. Increase your IQ Rubio.

    • Rubio is one of the best point guard defenders in the NBA. Very smart writers like Zach Lowe voted him for first/second team all defense this year. He’s worlds better at defense than Wiggins and Towns are at this stage in their development.

      Rubio is also one of the smartest players in the NBA. I don’t know how you can watch him play and not see how he makes all of his teammates better. The only higher basketball IQ on the team is KG.

      • lindblomeagles

        I seem to recall KG leading the Wolves to the playoffs. Where exactly has Rubio led the Wolves? By the way, to Bob for making the featured comment, you too apparently forgot KG led the Wolves to the playoffs seven times. Don’t kid yourselves. This team needs a guard to play with Wiggins and Towns, and that guard probably isn’t Rubio. BY THE WAY, YOU STILL DIDN’T ANSWER WHY RUBIO STRUGGLES TO SCORE 20 POINTS A GAME AND STAY HEALTHY.

        • You see, the thing about KG is that he’s one of the 25 best players in NBA history. So if your point is that Ricky Rubio is no KG, then I agree with you completely. He’ll never be the player Garnett was, and that’s okay. Nobody is suggesting (besides you?) that there should be a comparison between the two.

          Ricky isn’t a great scorer, but seeing as you cited the need for a guard to play with Wiggins and Towns, I’m wondering why you think a high scoring point guard is the solution. Watching Kyrie Irving in the Finals right now is a reminder that having a scoring PG doesn’t help your team win if he doesn’t pass or play defense. I’d rather have a PG who sets up Wiggins and Towns to score than one who needs to take 20 shots a game. Plus, Ricky’s scoring woes are overrated. His true shooting percentage is above average.

          Health is health. Nobody can control it. I hope he stays healthier in the future than he has in the past.

          • I wonder how many people actually WATCH Timberwolves games in person (hint: Not many, judging by the attendance). I don’t know of anyone who watches Rubio in person who thinks he’s anything but one of the best at his position.