Mark Cuban has an eye on Ricky Rubio

13 Comments

Ricky Rubio’s NBA relevance has gone from YouTube sensation to fanboy whimsy to actual draft pick to mythical figure, all with only one real constant: for all of the hype and criticism alike, Rubio has yet to play a single NBA game. It’s incredibly unclear when that might change, and if Rubio’s situation wasn’t tenuous enough on its own, a potential lockout definitely adds another variable to the mix. We could still be years away from Rubio’s NBA debut — if he decides to play in the States at all — and whether he’ll start his American career with the Timberwolves or some other team is a mystery.

That said, there’s at least one prominent owner with an eye on Rubio. Mark Cuban frequently describes his managerial style as “opportunistic,” and should Minnesota decide to trade either a signed Rubio or merely his rights, it sounds like you can count Cuban among the interested parties. From Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:

“We’re very high on him,” Cuban said told the [St. Paul Pioneer Press.] “If they want to give him up, we’re very interested. We would do that in a heartbeat.”

The Mavs are going to need a starting point in two seasons. Jason Kidd’s contract expires after the 2011-12 season (assuming there is a season). Beaubois has been tapped the point guard of the future, but there’s plenty of uncertainty if he the lightning-quick slasher will ever be able to assume that mantle. Dallas was interested at the trade deadline of re-acquiring Devin Harris with designs of flipping him at some point for Deron Williams, but the New Jersey Nets took care of that. The Wolves want Rubio to play for them, but if not…

“I don’t think if he came in [to the NBA] now he would dominate the league or anything like that,” Cuban said. “But, I think he would have a big impact here.”

As Caplan notes in his post, there’s no tampering here. Although the Timberwolves own Rubio’s draft rights, he’s not actually a member of the team and thus fair game for discussion among NBA parties.

There’s no use going deep into the idea of Rubio as a potential Maverick, but he and Beaubois could form a pretty interesting backcourt pairing. If Dallas can’t reload on the fly with an established commodity following Dirk Nowitzki’s inevitable decline, Cuban will blow the core up and start from scratch. Rubio and Beaubois would be a solid foundation — or at least a nice pair of assets — to begin a rebuild.

PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

Leave a comment

There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

Leave a comment

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

Leave a comment

Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.