Ricky Rubio didn’t want to go through rebuilding with the Thunder and he doesn’t believe that’s what he’s headed for with the Timberwolves, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. After Phoenix sent him to Oklahoma City in the Chris Paul trade, Rubio asked his agent to find a new destination. The result was a return to Minnesota, the team that drafted him 11 years ago.
The Wolves were just 19-45 last season and were among eight teams not invited to restart the season in Orlando. But Rubio believes the organization has enough quality pieces already in place to make a quick turnaround.
“I don’t feel like we’re in a rebuilding process,” he said. “We’re a couple steps ahead. We’re already making things happen. With [D’Angelo Russell] and [Karl-Anthony Towns] hitting their five years in the league, they still have a lot of room to improve, but I feel like they learned a lot. It’s not like a young corps where they don’t know how this league goes.”
Rubio expressed a willingness to accept a starting or reserve position in Minnesota. He credits the outlook to his time in Utah watching Derrick Favors, who handled both roles without complaining.
“He didn’t say a word,” Rubio said. “He kept working and … at the end of the day we won. That’s what you care about. You have to sacrifice something for the best, for the team. If it’s coming off the bench, would I like it? No. I wouldn’t like it, I will be honest. But I will be willing to do it for the best of the team.”
There’s more from Minnesota:
- Malik Beasley held his first session with reporters today since being arrested in September for drug possession and threats of violence, but he refused to discuss specifics of the case, Hine adds in a separate story. “It’s a legal issue,” he said. “I cannot really comment on that right now, but I appreciate the Timberwolves’ support and I’m 100% focused on the court this year and doing what we have to do.”
- The Wolves have only four players remaining from last season’s opening-night roster, notes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas has remade the team to add more shooting, playmaking and versatility, giving coach Ryan Saunders more options with his rotation. Krawcyznski examines several potential starting lineups that lean on experience, athleticism and ball-handling.
- The new three-year, $21MM contract for Juancho Hernangomez includes a team option for the third year and contains $387,500 in incentives, Krawczynski tweets. The fifth-year power forward will make $6.493MM this season and $7,012,440 in 2021/22. His $7,531,880 salary for 2022/23 becomes fully guaranteed on June 30, 2022.