NBA Rumors: Minnesota Timberwolves And Sacramento Kings Talk Ricky Rubio For Rudy Gay Trade

Are the Minnesota Timberwolves looking to deal?

New Timberwolves head coach and president Tom Thibodeau may have inherited a good young team, but he understands that a couple of changes should be made.

There is so much talent on the Timberwolves’ roster that they could consummate just about any deal they choose, using members of their roster as bait for star players. Instead of conducting a drastic move, a more subtle approach may be taken. This would explain the latest NBA rumor the Timberwolves are involved in.

According to the website Yibada, the Timberwolves could trade point guard Ricky Rubio to the Sacramento Kings for Rudy Gay.

The Timberwolves have not made any sweeping changes to their roster since Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden took over. The roster mostly remains intact, aside from a couple of players who clearly were not in the Timberwolves’ plans. That may change.

Thibodeau likes hard-working, defensive-minded players. Nobody will deny that Ricky Rubio is a hard worker. His defense is at times, suspect at best. But there has been a steady improvement compared to his first two seasons in the NBA. Rubio is no longer a revolving door on defense. Last season, Rubio was ranked fifth in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus rankings. Can he play with the type hellacious tenacity that Tom Thibodeau requires?

Coach Thibodeau has had a history of coaxing passable defense out of point guards with the reputation of not guarding well, Rubio would be a huge challenge for the Timberwolves’ boss.

Ricky Rubio
Minnesota Timberwolves' point guard can direct an offense, but his defense makes him expendable. [Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]

The Minnesota Timberwolves may be in good shape if they kept Ricky Rubio. That is judging Thibodeau’s history. He has coached Derrick Rose, Nate Robinson, D.J. Augustin, and Aaron Brooks. All but Robinson was known for his guarding prowess. Thibodeau made each of them better by hiding them in his team-orientated defense.

The Timberwolves already have three good defensive players in their probable starting lineup. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Gorgui Dieng have the skills to make an All-NBA defensive team for the Timberwolves. Zach LaVine is not too shabby, either. They can mask any deficiencies Rubio have when trying to stay in front of his man. Because the Timberwolves are looked at as a possible playoff team, the thinking could turn into defense will get them there.

Defense wins championships. That is the usual cliché often heard in sports, but it rings truth. The Timberwolves will conduct their business as a defensive-minded club. While building that team philosophy, someone else to put the ball in the basket would hurt.

If it is true about the Timberwolves having an interest in the Kings’ Rudy Gay, it is because they could use a veteran scorer.

Towns, Wiggins and LaVine all can score for the Timberwolves. Neither of them are yet capable of putting up 26 points a night. Perhaps 19, maybe 20 points, but not on the elite level of the Kevin Durants and LeBron Jameses of the world. The Timberwolves can balance that out by adding another player who can put up an average between 15-19 points a game.

The answer could be Rudy Gay.

The Sacramento Kings want to accommodate Gay’s trade request (courtesy of ESPN). And they have taken calls in order to do so.

Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay is still a capable scorer in the NBA, and could help the Minnesota Timberwolves. According to reports, he wants no part of playing for the Sacramento Kings. [Photo by Robb Carr/Getty Images]

The Kings have engaged in talks with the Chicago Bulls for a Rudy Gay trade. One of the primary reasons why nothing has changed in those talks is because the Kings need a point guard. The only point guard the Bulls have to trade is second-year player Jerian Grant.

Grant is not a starting point guard at this stage, but Ricky Rubio is. And a Timberwolves trade for Rudy Gay, sending Ricky Rubio back in return makes sense.

The Timberwolves and Kings swap is a need for need move in the truest form. The salaries also match up. Therefore, neither the Timberwolves nor Kings have to throw in additional players for a trade to happen.

Gay would provide scoring either off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves, or as a stretch-forward. Gay brings an element of shooting as slashing, much like Wiggins and LaVine, but his experience would set him apart in the Timberwolves’ locker room.

Rubio to Sacramento gives the Kings a pass-first point guard who looks to make the best offensive basketball play. As good as Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins is, and can be, someone has to get him the ball. Rubio would add some fluidity on the offensive end. Defensively he would hurt the Kings, but the question that begs to be asked, is Ricky Rubio a better defender than Darren Collison, who is penciled in as the Kings’ starter?

The Minnesota Timberwolves should trade Ricky Rubio at some point. Getting more playing time for rookie Kris Dunn is essential. Dunn will end the streak of rookies who have sat and watched on Tom Thibodeau’s bench. Kris Dunn’s defensive upside will get him on the basketball court for more than just practice time with the Timberwolves. This is why it is a surprise that Ricky Rubio has not already been traded.

Nothing is imminent between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings, as far as a Ricky Rubio for Rudy Gay trade is concerned. But there is an obvious match here. Ironically, obvious matches seldom take place in NBA trades. That makes NBA rumors so scintillating.

[Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images]