With the Minnesota Timberwolves on the rise with several potential stars on the team, it is odd to think that Ricky Rubio may soon demand a trade to a new team. Although the Timberwolves won only 29 games last season, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, and Rubio have formed a strong young nucleus in Minnesota. Furthermore, the team owns the No. 5 pick in the NBA Draft this offseason and will look to add another prospect to their budding squad. Still, Rubio may be becoming more and more discontent as the Timberwolves continue to miss out on the playoffs and have gone through yet another coaching change this summer.
According to Alacarta, Rubio could be looking elsewhere if the Timberwolves miss the playoffs once again next season.
“Next season is key. It’s a key season because the truth is that I’ve been five years in the NBA and six years without playoffs would be a long time. Well, I would be 26 years old and I would have to start thinking about being on a team that can get in the playoffs and can win.”
Given Minnesota’s nucleus of young talent, Rubio and the Timberwolves should be able to contend for a playoff berth next season under the direction of Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau is familiar with leading teams to the playoffs, and Rubio’s defensive skills should thrive under him. The Timberwolves were No. 27 in defensive efficiency last season, and Thibodeau will certainly look to address that in his first year as head coach in Minnesota. An improvement on the defensive end will most likely occur under his guidance and the help of Rubio, Wiggins, and Towns. With this leap, the Timberwolves should find themselves in the playoff conversation in the Western Conference.
Along with a defensive improvement, Towns’ growth as a superstar should also help to offer the best chance Rubio has had of a playoff berth in Minnesota. Last season, Towns did not have to go through the growing pains most NBA rookies have to experience. He instead demonstrated a plethora of moves and a natural touch that make him seem like a 10-year NBA veteran.
He tallied 20.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per 36 minutes, an impressive feat for any player in the league. With the help of Towns, Rubio was able to average 10.2 assists per 36 minutes this past season, the highest of his five-year career thus far in the NBA. Towns’ ability to finish will only continue to boost Rubio’s assist numbers, as the rookie shot an impressive 70.1 percent from inside three feet, per Basketball-Reference.
Despite Rubio’s improvement and his chemistry with Towns, this is not the first time Rubio’s name has been brought up in trade discussions. Earlier in the season, Rubio talked about a conversation he had with Minnesota’s general manager Milt Newton. According to the Associated Press, Rubio discussed his thoughts on nearly being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks during this past season.
“When the GM comes to you and says that’s what happened, it hurts, but you’ve got to be professional. You’ve been here all your career and thinking they were supporting you. At some point, they weren’t. But I’m professional. I’m going to give it my all. I love playing basketball and every time I step on the court I want to win.”
In the end, it seems unlikely that Rubio will demand a trade from Minnesota given the team’s roster improvements over the past two seasons. However, if the rumors are true that Newton was interested in exploring trade options with Rubio involved, the Timberwolves’ point guard may be traded even if he is content with his current team.
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