The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t had the most eventful off-season this year, but next year might be looking up. A new rumor has it that the Minnesota Timberwolves’ star point guard Ricky Rubio is looking to bolt from the north in 2015, and the Lakers are said to be high on Rubio’s list.
The news comes by way of ESPN’s Darren Wolfson, who tweeted this week that the Lakers are among the teams that Rubio’s agent is interested in talking to.
— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) September 23, 2014
Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves are in the process of trying to work out a contract extension, but Rubio is reportedly interested in the Lakers and other teams instead of committing long term to the Timberwolves, who will have likely have an adjustment period this year after trading away star Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Rumor has it that the Timberwolves have offered Rubio a four-year deal worth $42 million, or about $10.5 million per year. Rubio has put up some solid numbers in Minnesota – averaging 9.5 points, 8.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.3 steals over 82 games last year – but they’re not superstar numbers.
Rubio is a big name, though, with a good deal of hype having built around him even before the Spaniard came into the league. The Lakers, as Laker fans are well aware, love to pull in big names, but it remains to be seen whether they would be interested in shelling out big bucks for a point guard that isn’t among the top three in the league.
There is also the issue of where Rubio would fit in on the Lakers. The Lakers back court already includes Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Lin, and Steve Nash – all big names in their own rights, all definitely in need of floor time.
Still, Rubio could be a solid pull for the Lakers, who weren’t shy about expressing interest in Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe over the summer. The Lakers appear to have missed out on Bledsoe, though, as ESPN reports that the Suns have signed the guard a five-year $70 million deal.
As Hoops Habit points out, the leak of Rubio’s interest in the Lakers could be a ploy to secure a higher payday from the Timberwolves, who will no doubt be interested in holding onto Rubio following Love’s departure. Rubio’s agent could very well be playing the ‘Wolves off the Lakers and the Knicks in order to get the ‘Wolves to open up their checkbook, but it’s possible that Rubio simply doesn’t want to stay at a franchise that will likely have a long period of adjustment ahead.
Assuming Rubio does stay put for the time being, the point position in Los Angeles will be filled by a combination of jokester Jeremy Lin and aging superstar Steve Nash. Lin will provide some energy, but Nash has been touch-and-go pretty much since the Lakers brought him onto the team a couple of years ago.
A good deal of the team’s fortunes, of course, will swing on the legs and overall health of Kobe Bryant. The Laker legend will be returning after an off-season spent recovering, and there is a question of just how well even the maniacally devoted Kobe Bryant can hold off Father Time. If he can’t, Laker fans could see the franchise looking north to bring in Rubio for some much needed youth and talent in Los Angeles.
[Lead image via College Sports Town.]