Ricky Rubio

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Jokic, Green, Rubio, Conley

A fractured right wrist may prevent Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic from earning a $1.25MM bonus this season, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter). Nurkic would earn that bonus if he plays in at least 62 games and Portland wins at least 44 games. Those thresholds are prorated downward from 70 and 50, respectively, to account for the 72-game season.

As we noted last night in our story on Nurkic’s injury, the Blazers do have an open spot on their 15-man roster and an open two-way contract slot, so they have options if they want to add depth up front with Nurkic and Zach Collins (ankle) both sidelined.

Portland is currently $1.87MM below the luxury tax line, according to Marks. Since two-way signings don’t count toward the tax and there’s no deadline to sign a player to a two-way deal this season, that option could appeal more to the Blazers.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic raved about new teammate JaMychal Green after Thursday’s win over Golden State, as Alex Ladibou of Nuggets.com writes. “I’ve always said JaMychal is a guy I’d like to play with for the rest of my life,” Jokic said. “He is amazing.” A source tells Mike Singer of The Denver Post that Jokic expressed a similar sentiment privately to Green after the game.
  • Britt Robson of The Athletic feels the Timberwolves made a mistake by bringing Ricky Rubio back to Minnesota during the offseason, since Rubio’s style doesn’t mesh particularly well with D’Angelo Russell‘s. Minnesota has a -22.3 net rating so far this season when the two point guards share the court.
  • Mike Conley had a down year in his first season with the Jazz in 2019/20, but is now finding his comfort zone, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Conley, an unrestricted free agent in 2021, is averaging 17.3 PPG and 5.6 APG on .452/.430/.774 shooting in 11 games so far in ’20/21 after putting up just 14.4 PPG and 4.4 APG on .409/.375/.827 shooting last season.

Hernangomez, Rubio Entering COVID-19 Protocols

Timberwolves power forward Juan Hernangomez will isolate for at least 10 days due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to Jon Krawcyznski of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Like Hernangomez, Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio will also miss the Timberwolves’ Friday bout against the Grizzlies as a result of the league’s COVID-19 protocols, the team tweets, though a timeline for Rubio’s absence has not established publicly.

Rubio could have recorded a positive or inconclusive test, or could be quarantining himself as a result of contact-tracing measures. Depending on what happened, the timeline for Rubio’s return could be briefer than Hernangomez’s absence.

In 11 games for Minnesota (including 6 starts), Hernangomez is averaging 6.6 PPG and 5.3 RPG across 20.4 MPG. He is struggling to shoot from the floor thus far this year, connecting on just 39.7% of his field goals. For his second stint with the NBA club that drafted him, Rubio is averaging a career-low 6.3 PPG and 5.4 APG in a reduced role over the team’s first 11 contests.

Wolves Notes: Rubio, Beasley, Rosas, Hernangomez

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.

Wolves Rumors: Hernangomez, Edwards, Rubio, Beasley

Timberwolves restricted free agent forward Juan Hernangomez initially sought an offer in excess of $10MM per year, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Unwilling to meet that price right off the bat, the Wolves “essentially told” Hernangomez to prove he could get an offer from another club while they went looking for possible alternatives at power forward, writes Krawczynski.

Minnesota ended up reaching out to a number forwards in free agency, including Derrick Jones (as previously outlined), Paul Millsap, Jae Crowder, and JaMychal Green, and inquired on possible trades involving Magic forward Aaron Gordon, Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, and Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr., sources tell Krawczynski.

The Timberwolves didn’t have any luck with any of those potential targets, but held firm on their offer to Hernangomez, who mulled the possibility of accepting the one-year qualifying offer worth $4.64MM, per Krawczynski. Ultimately, the two sides came to an agreement on a three-year, $21MM deal that has a third-year team option.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • The Timberwolves chose Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick last week because they believe he has the clearest path of any of this year’s draft-eligible prospects to becoming a multi-time All-Star, says Krawczysnki.
  • Sources tell The Athletic that the team’s acquisition of Ricky Rubio was partly motivated by seeing what the veteran point guard did for Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker at his previous stops and a belief that he’ll aid Edwards’ development.
  • The Knicks told Malik Beasley he’d be their Plan B in free agency if they couldn’t land Gordon Hayward, according to Krawczynski. Recognizing that New York could be a threat to put forth a troublesome offer sheet, the Wolves went in with an aggressive pitch on the opening night of free agency and secured a commitment from Beasley on the spot. Sources tell The Athletic that Beasley has appreciated the support he’s received from the franchise since running into off-court legal problems.
  • The Timberwolves officially announced Beasley’s new deal today. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) has the year-by-year financial breakdown of that contract, which guarantees the swingman $43MM+ over three years.

Wolves Notes: Rubio, Edwards, Davis, Beasley

In a conversation with Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, Ricky Rubio discussed his first stint with the Timberwolves, his impending second stint with the franchise, and the experience of being traded twice in the span of days. Rubio said he found out about his involvement in the SunsChris Paul trade last week when Shams Charania broke the news on Twitter.

“It’s not the way you want to know, especially my agent was talking with the team and they said my name was off the table when all the rumors and all the stuff happened,” Rubio said. “You feel like everything that they have said to you all year and buying into a new project and a young team and they need you, blah, blah, blah. It seems like nothing’s true.”

As Krawczynski writes, Rubio wasn’t upset about the move itself, since he understands why the Suns would want Paul. Still, he was stung by the way he found out. Now, after initially making his NBA debut for the Timberwolves as a 21-year-old, the point guard is looking forward to returning to the team as a veteran who can help guide a young squad.

“It started to really make more sense for me to really connect the puzzle and get to Minnesota and help a young team with a lot of talent and already have done really good things,” he told Krawczynsi. “I feel like I can fit in the puzzle.”

Here’s more on the Wolevs:

  • In an in-depth story on how the Timberwolves decided to use the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft on Anthony Edwards, Krawczynski cites sources who say that the team never really got close to trading that pick. The Wolves were unwilling to accept what they considered subpar value to move down and risk missing out on the Georgia guard, per Krawczynski. “He stood head and shoulders above any player in this draft and we were excited to be at No. 1 to be able to select him,” president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said of Edwards.
  • Michael Rand of The Star Tribune makes a case for why he believes veteran center Ed Davis could be the Timberwolves’ most important new player for the 2020/21 season.
  • Three days after agreeing to a new $60MM deal with the Timberwolves, Malik Beasley made a court appearance today. Beasley, who faces a pair of felony charges related to a September incident, was told to have no contact with the alleged victims and a potential witness, tweets Krawczynski. His next court appearance will be on December 17.

Timberwolves Trade For Ricky Rubio

NOVEMBER 20: The trade is now official, according to the Timberwolves, who announced it in a press release. As expected, Johnson was sent to the Thunder along with the rights to Pokusevski in exchange for Rubio, the No. 25 pick, and the No. 28 pick. Oklahoma City also received the Timberwolves’ 2024 second-round pick in the deal.

Minnesota subsequently flipped the No. 25 pick (Immanuel Quickley) to New York in a deal for Leandro Bolmaro (No. 23). The Wolves have also confirmed that trade.


NOVEMBER 19: Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) confirms that Johnson will be a part of this deal for salary-matching purposes. The veteran forward will still need to pick up his option before he can officially be traded.


NOVEMBER 18: The Timberwolves will acquire point guard Ricky Rubio from the Thunder, along with the 25th and 28th picks in this year’s draft, in exchange for the 17th selection, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Oklahoma City will receive Serbian 7-footer Aleksej Pokusevski, whom Minnesota selected at No. 17. The Thunder had expressed interest in Pokusevski throughout the past two weeks.

Although it hasn’t been reported yet, James Johnson will likely have to be included in the deal to match salaries. Rubio will earn $17MM during the upcoming season, while Johnson has a $16MM player option that he is virtually certain to pick up.

The deal represents a homecoming for Rubio, who spent six seasons with the Wolves at the start of his career. He began looking for a trade after being sent to OKC in the Chris Paul deal and was receptive to the idea of returning to Minnesota. Rubio wants to help the Wolves get back to the playoffs, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Rubio will share ball-handling duties in the Minnesota backcourt with D’Angelo Russell, who was acquired at the trade deadline, and will reunite with former teammate Karl-Anthony Towns.

In addition to the 25th and 28th picks, the Wolves also own the 33rd pick in tonight’s second round. The Thunder, who have been stockpiling picks, will select again at 34 and 53.

Timberwolves Trying To Acquire Ricky Rubio

The Timberwolves are talking to the Thunder about a deal to bring Ricky Rubio back to Minnesota, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The Wolves are offering the 17th pick to Oklahoma City in exchange for Rubio and picks No. 25 and 28.

Rubio, who played last season in Phoenix, is part of the trade that will send Chris Paul to the Suns. He has two years and $34.8MM left on his contract. The 30-year-old posted another productive season in 2019/20, averaging 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 8.8 assists in 65 games.

Minnesota became interested in bringing back Rubio as soon as the trade was announced, sources tell Krawczynski. The Wolves had hoped to pursue Rubio in free agency last summer, but he agreed to a three-year deal with Phoenix.

After learning that he was sent to Oklahoma City, Rubio and his agents at Excel Sports began searching for a deal to a team more likely to be competitive this season. After looking throughout the league and seeing the interest from the Wolves, Rubio became receptive to returning to Minnesota.

He remains close to Wolves head coach Ryan Saunders, who has been looking for another ball-handler to team with D’Angelo Russell. Rubio is also a former teammate of Karl-Anthony Towns, playing with the center during his first two years in the NBA.

Rubio began his career in Minnesota, being selected with the fifth pick in the 2009 draft. He came to the NBA two years later and spent six years with the Wolves before being traded to Utah.

Pacific Notes: Suns Practice Facility, Kings, No. 10 Pick, Rubio

In addition to acquiring new All-NBA point guard Chris Paul, the Suns have also started to work out in the team’s brand-new $45MM practice facility, the Verizon 5G Performance Center, for the 2020/21 season, as Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic details.

The 53,000 square foot facility will be used by both the Suns and the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. Verizon will equip the facility with “performance analytics and biometric innovations,” per Rankin, which will help the team assess its players during practices.“Verizon’s powerful 5G technology is seamlessly incorporated throughout our facility in a way that is unprecedented in the NBA and American professional sports today,” general manager James Jones commented in a statement.

“That cohesion provides our staff with unparalleled opportunities to efficiently unlock each athlete’s fullest potential,” Jones continued. The Suns, hot off an 8-0 run during the NBA’s Orlando-based seeding games, look to finally make a playoff return thanks to the expected improvement of young stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, plus the addition of Paul.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • There has been developing buzz that point guard Killian Hayes might fall to the Kings with the No. 12 pick, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. The 6’5″ guard has been projected as falling to Sacramento in mock drafts today from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Jonathan Givony of ESPN, and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and Tankathon.
  • Were the Suns to retain their No. 10 lottery pick tonight, they could benefit from an addition across several positions, per Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Point guards Kira Lewis Jr., Killian Hayes and Tyrell Terry could serve as solid understudies for the 35-year-old Chris Paul, while forward Aaron Nesmith might also be an intriguing fit.
  • New Thunder point guard Ricky Rubio, a key part of the Sunstrade to acquire Paul, was not expecting to be traded this offseason, according to a recent interview with Spanish outlet Marca.com recapped by Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic“It was a surprise, especially because of the communication that there has been,” Rubio said. “When [I heard] the rumors about my transfer, I called my people and they told me that my name was not on the table.” Rubio inked a three-year, $51MM contract with Phoenix last summer.

All-Star Guard Chris Paul Traded To Suns

8:07pm: The trade is official, per a Suns press release.


12:11pm:  The Suns and Thunder are finalizing an agreement on a trade that will send All-Star point guard Chris Paul from Oklahoma City to Phoenix, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), the Thunder will receive Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and draft compensation in the deal. Wojnarowski adds that the Suns will also get Abdel Nader in the blockbuster swap (Twitter link).

The draft pick being sent from Phoenix to Oklahoma City in the trade is the Suns’ 2022 first-rounder, per Wojnarowski. Charania reports (via Twitter) that the pick will be top-12 protected. If it doesn’t change hands in 2022, it’ll be top-10 protected in 2023, top-eight protected in 2024, and unprotected in 2025.

The Suns, whose interest in Paul was first reported last week, are hoping that the veteran guard can help the team build upon its 8-0 showing during the Orlando restart and make the postseason in 2020/21. Paul, who will reunite with his former Pelicans coach Monty Williams, will join an intriguing core that includes star guard Devin Booker, former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, and promising young wings Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges.

While bigger-market teams (like the Knicks) and stronger contenders (including the Bucks) were cited in recent weeks as potential suitors for CP3, the 35-year-old won’t object to joining the Suns. The Thunder worked with Paul and his reps at CAA to get him to a preferred destination, per Woj (Twitter link). A report last week suggested that Phoenix’s proximity to Los Angeles appealed to Paul, who has a home in the L.A. area.

Phoenix will complete the trade without using the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft, so the club will have the opportunity on Wednesday to add another young prospect to that group. The Suns also have a couple different directions they could go in free agency.

Remaining over the cap and attempting to bring back Dario Saric and Aron Baynes is one option for the organization — the other would be to let those free agents go to open up cap room, then using up that space before officially finalizing the deal for CP3. In that scenario, Phoenix would only have the $4.8MM room exception left over, whereas if the team remains over the cap, the mid-level ($9.3MM) and bi-annual ($3.6MM) could be in play.

Meanwhile, the Thunder appear to be shifting into full-fledged rebuilding mode after outperforming expectations in 2019/20. They’ve now reached deals to move both Paul and Dennis Schröder. Steven Adams remains a trade candidate, as are the veterans Oklahoma City will receive in the two agreed-upon trades (Rubio, Oubre, and Danny Green).

Having acquired a pair of first-round picks and two future pick swaps in last year’s Paul/Russell Westbrook trade, the Thunder were able to parlay CP3’s strong season (17.6 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.0 RPG) into yet another first-round selection. The franchise now owns three 2022 first-rounders and holds multiple first-round picks every year through 2026, as Tommy Beer of Forbes details (via Twitter).

By taking on Paul’s contract, the Suns will be on the hook for his $41.4MM salary in 2020/21 and his $44.2MM player option for ’21/22. Nader has a minimum salary for ’20/21 which will remain non-guaranteed even after his team option is exercised to complete this trade.

As for the Thunder, they’ll take on Oubre’s expiring $14.4MM salary and will be on the hook for $34.8MM over two years for Rubio. Jerome, who has a $2.3MM cap charge in 2020/21, is in the second year of a rookie scale contract, while Lecque has a guaranteed $1.5MM salary for ’20/21 and a non-guaranteed $1.8MM for ’21/22.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Chris Paul/Suns Rumors

After co-authoring a Tuesday report revealing that the Suns and Thunder have discussed a potential Chris Paul trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst appeared on The Drive with Jody Oehler on FOX Sports 910 Phoenix on Wednesday morning to go into more detail on the possibility of a CP3 deal between the two Western clubs.

According to Windhorst, the Thunder have given Paul permission to talk to the Suns, which suggests that Oklahoma City is unlikely to complete a trade with Phoenix unless the veteran point guard is comfortable with it. And Windhorst does believe that CP3 has interest in becoming a Sun, pointing out that Phoenix’s proximity to Los Angeles – where Paul has a home – helps give the team a leg up.

Pressed to place odds on the two teams finalizing a trade, Windhorst told Oehler that he thinks the Suns and Thunder have better than a “50-50” chance to work something out.

Here’s more on the rumors connecting Paul to the Suns:

  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) wouldn’t expect the Suns to include the No. 10 pick in any offer for Paul. He adds that Phoenix may have to take advantage of its cap flexibility to complete a deal, noting that Frank Kaminsky and Aron Baynes aren’t expected to return to the team, which will free up some space (Twitter link).
  • Gambadoro has also heard that the Thunder don’t want to take back any multiyear contracts, which would make a trade difficult, since Ricky Rubio almost certainly has to be included for salary-matching purposes (Twitter link). Oklahoma City doesn’t have real interest in Rubio – who has two years and $34.8MM left on his deal – or Kelly Oubre, per Gambadoro. That doesn’t mean a deal is impossible, but it means the Thunder and Suns could be motivated to try to get a third team involved.
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic weighs the pros and cons of acquiring Paul from the Suns’ perspective.