Ricky Rubio Barcelona

Ricky Rubio rumors: Lockout remains key issue

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You have to admire the unrelenting optimism in Minnesota that Ricky Rubio is going to play with the team next season.

But even that Midwestern, can-do optimism knows limits — the lockout is strangling that hope right out of Wolves fans. Check out this note from the Pioneer Press where — like only in the Enchanted Tiki Room — little birds can talk.

A little birdie says the Timberwolves have received word from Ricky Rubio’s family that he’s open to signing with them for next season — if there is a season.

The NBA’s labor agreement expires June 30, and that’s an issue for Rubio, the Wolves’ 2009 first-round draft pick who could continue playing for FC Barcelona in Spain if there is an NBA lockout. The 6-foot-4 point guard is averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 assists in 45 games this season.

Rubio sounded more hesitant when he spoke recently, saying. “I do have interest in the NBA, but not as in right away…”

You will see a lot of international players in the NBA draft this year because they can get picked but still play in Europe until the owners and players are done trying to kill the league’s popularity.

Rubio is different, however — he has to inform Barcelona of his decision for next season before the lockout would be done (early summer). So he would have to give up his Barcelona money (and rock-star level popularity) for the uncertainty of the NBA, to sit in the United States waiting for cooler heads to prevail. Then find out what he could get paid for whatever is left of the season.

Wolves fans, you may well get Rubio (so long as he keeps paying, the Wolves have his rights). But despite what talking birds tell you, next year is not a smart bet.

Markieff Morris flips off Suns fan (video)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.

As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:

Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7

Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.