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Wolves’ moves catch my attention

June 29, 2009

by Matt Kane

Before Thursday night, I couldn’t remember the last time I made a conscious effort to look up information on the Minnesota Timberwolves out of straight curiosity.

I worked a little late that night, and something shocked my mind into remembering it was NBA draft night, so I logged on around 10 p.m. to see if the Wolves had actually drafted a player I had heard of. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I had heard of the two players they drafted (and kept) in the first round.

Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn are names I know, or at least heard of.

I knew Rubio was some young European taking the basketball world by storm. I think, with Flynn, I probably just heard his name in speculation that the Wolves might pick him, but I knew he was a guard at Syracuse.

Both Rubio and Flynn are point guards, and I have no idea if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I would guess it’s a good thing, since the Wolves have struggled with finding strong perimeter players in recent years. I do know that a strong point guard is what the Wolves need.

The Wolves have a pair of decent forwards in Al Jefferson and, hopefully, Kevin Love, and now they should have a couple players who can get these two scorers the ball.

Randy Foye certainly didn’t turn out to be the player we all hoped when he was picked by the Wolves in the 2007 draft, but he did play well enough to spark some interest, and we can thank Foye for that, as his trade to the Washington Wizards gave the Wolves the fifth pick, which turned out to be Rubio. Mike Miller was also dealt to the Wizards in the deal.

I believe my interest in who the Wolves would pick in the draft was initially sparked by the trade to the Wizards, who sent that fifth pick, along with Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov, to Minnesota. I’ve never heard of any of these players the Wolves got form the Wizards, but the fact that Minnesota’s suits are making deals for more reasons than to dump high salaries has me thinking they might actually be trying to make the team better.

Dealing Ty Lawson soon after he was drafted Thursday gave the Wolves another draft selection in next years draft, which could leave them with three first-rounders for the second straight season. Having three picks is also valuable in the trade market.

If nothing turns out to be good about this year’s draft for the Wolves, at least Rubio’s name is fun to say. “Ricky Rubio” rolls off the tongue. The name sounds like it should be the moniker of a mafia hit man or the leading man in a soap opera. The name is probably the best the Wolves have had since Pooh Richardson.

Back in the early 1990s, it was “Pooh, for two.” With Rubio, it can be “Rubio for Two-ubio.”

The main question in drafting Rubio, though, is whether Wolves announcers Trent Tucker and Jim Peterson will ever get to say the name “Ricky Rubio” on the air.

From Rubio’s post-draft comments, I’m not convinced he really wants to play in Minnesota. Only 18 years old, Rubio might stay in Europe to play next season, and he was already worried about the cold weather and how his mother doesn’t like cold weather.

Note to Rubio: Your mother can stay in Spain. The Wolves drafted you, not her.

I believe drafting Rubio was a great move. Even if he doesn’t want to play in Minnesota, the Wolves could trade him for quality players and/or draft picks. That’s called leverage.

If Rubio is worried about the money he will make through shoe contracts taking a hit because of his playing in Minnesota, we can figure something out. Maybe Rubio can be the pitch man for Arctic Cat snowmobiles and Sorel snow boots.