Ricky Rubio leads Barcelona to Euroleague title, says blowing off Minnesota was right call

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Ricky Rubio is a basketball rock star.

At 19 he just led Barcelona to the Euroleague championship Sunday, making some shots but mostly creating for others with natural gifts that have NBA Scouts drooling. He is the best point guard in Europe. Last summer — at 18 — he held his own against America’s best for Spain in the Gold Medal game in the Beijing Olympics.

Rubio was drafted last year by the Timberwolves, but he couldn’t work out an affordable buyout with his old team DKV Joventut (by NBA rule Minnesota couldn’t pay much of it), so he blew off the NBA to play for Barcelona for at least two years.

He told the Star-Tribune that was the right move.

“To be in the Final Four of the Euroleague, this is where I want to be,” said the recipient of the league’s Rising Star Award, given annually to the best young player. “I’ve worked hard to make it to this goal. And this shows me that I chose the best option. I am so happy on this team. These players help me improve every day and so do the assistant coaches and other staff.”

Rubio made the right call.

He will gain more leading a team in Europe’s top league than he would losing 50 games with the Timberwolves. Rubio needed work on his shooting mechanics — European teams practice much more than NBA teams, the quality coaches at Barcelona have spent far more time revamping his shot than Kurt Rambis and team could have.

Plus, the direction Minnesota has chosen with the triangle offense was always a poor fit for Rubio. The offense does not want a strong, playmaking point guard well (think of Phil Jackson’s points through the years: Derek Fisher, Ron Harper, John Paxson). The T-Wolves already ran some non-traditional triangle sets to accommodate Jonny Flynn. Rubio would have blown the thing up.

Still, after next season he has an opt out of his Barcelona contract, and he may well come to the United States. Although that is not a sure thing — Barcelona has deep pockets, while Rubio would have to risk a lockout and receive rookie-scale salary to play in the NBA. Meaning he may well have to take a pay cut for a few years.

Barcelona will fight to keep him, he is a rock star.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.

Kevin Love drips snot all over his face, maybe into his mouth (video)

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Cameras zoomed in on Kevin Love at the wrong moment:

Need a sensory cleanser? Enjoy this fantastic outlet pass from Kevin Love to LeBron James:

Derrick Rose out for Knicks-Cavaliers with back injury, getting MRI

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22:  Derrick Rose #25 of the New York Knicks dribbles against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Madison Square Garden on November 22, 2016 in New York City.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Derrick Rose is missing the New York Knicks’ game against Cleveland because of lower back pain.

Rose left the Knicks’ victory over Miami on Tuesday in the third quarter with back spasms. Coach Jeff Hornacek says Rose still felt sore on Wednesday when he came in and met with team doctors, so they sent him for an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage.

Rose is averaging 16.7 points and this is the first game he’s missed this season.

Brandon Jennings will start in Rose’s place.