NBA Trade Rumors: Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks In The Running For Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio

NBA trade rumors are beginning to heat up regarding Minnesota Timberwolves' guard Ricky Rubio. The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks might be emerging as the front-runners to acquire the deft playmaker from Spain. Which team will wind up making a trade with the Timberwolves? Will the team that lands Rubio wind up being the Bulls, Knicks, or another club? The answer to that question could be revealed soon.

The Spanish-based NBA site known as NBA Maniacs is reporting that both the Bulls and Knicks have contacted the Timberwolves regarding Ricky Rubio. Rubio seems guaranteed to be playing for an NBA team besides the Minnesota Timberwolves before the February 23 trade deadline.

News of the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks having called the Timberwolves comes after ESPN reported that trade discussions took place with the Detroit Pistons. The conversation with the Timberwolves and Pistons centered around a Ricky Rubio for Reggie Jackson deal.

Those talks were confirmed (courtesy of ESPN) by Pistons' coach and president Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy told reporters that there was not going to be a Rubio for Jackson trade.

"I texted Reggie and just said, 'This is crazy season, and we're not trading you for Ricky Rubio."

"I'm not denying that the discussion took place -- they take place all the time. But that's a lot different than consideration. And clearly we didn't make that move."

While it appears that the Pistons may have moved on from Ricky Rubio, other teams have not. The two teams mentioned in the NBA Maniacs' story, the Bulls and Knicks, are alive and well in trade talks with the Timberwolves.
Timing is everything. There are a few things that have come up in the past two months that would help Timberwolves' fans connect the dots.

Ricky Rubio was not with the Timberwolves over the weekend due to undisclosed personal matter. According to the Star Tribune, there is speculation that Rubio's grandmother has passed. Trade discussions going on while a player is absent due to a death in the family is not a proper business tactic, but the Timberwolves have had constant talks. Rubio should be returning to the Timberwolves' lineup soon, but will he be with another team when he returns?

Back in November, it was reported by Yahoo Sports that the Minnesota Timberwolves were willing to deal one of their young stars for veteran help.

The original thought was that the Timberwolves were gauging interest in Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins. That is not the case. The Timberwolves are more inclined to deal Ricky Rubio and forward Shabazz Muhammad instead.

Another revelation was that the Timberwolves would rather trade for a player who head coach and team president Tom Thibodeau has coached before. Speculation began with Luol Deng and Taj Gibson being the primary names involved in the NBA trade rumors surrounding the Timberwolves.

It is safe to eliminate the Los Angeles Lakers from those trade discussions. The Lakers are point guard heavy at this time. All signs point to the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.

The Bulls and Knicks have players who have experience with Tom Thibodeau. Of those who would be available in trade discussions are the aforementioned Taj Gibson, Rajon Rondo, and Joakim Noah. In an effort to provide a veteran presence, each of them could be suitable in a possible trade for Ricky Rubio.

One realistic trade would be for the Timberwolves and Bulls to swap Rubio and Muhammad for Gibson, Rondo, and a future draft pick. Another trade would involve the Timberwolves and Knicks with Rubio for Noah. Look for the Chicago Bulls to step up their efforts and try to get Rubio, using Rondo as the lure.

Why would the Minnesota Timberwolves be interested in Rajon Rondo?

Tom Thibodeau coached the current Bulls' guard as an assistant during their time with the Boston Celtics. Thibodeau gets a lot of credit for Rondo earning the reputation of a solid defender. While Rondo's best days are behind him, all the Timberwolves are looking for a veteran point guard to mentor rookie Kris Dunn.

Rajon Rondo and the Chicago Bulls are not seeing eye to eye regarding the veteran's role with the team. Despite falling out of favor with the Bulls, Rondo has helped his young teammates.

Would a Rubio for Rondo swap work as it is? Not likely! Adding something else in the trade, perhaps future draft picks or combo guard Jerian Grant could move things along for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls.

[Featured Image by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images]