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.
Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.
Jay Williams of ESPN:
A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”
Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.
Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.
The NBA’s invitations to the draft are a good indicator of when players will get drafted. The league samples executives, who are more likely to be honest here than in leaks to the media, about how they rank players. So, the list is worth monitoring.
The players who will attend tonight’s draft nearly match the leaks – with one exception. O.G. Anunoby is going, and Harry Giles isn’t.
Here are the players who will be at the draft – a reasonable placeholder for the players most likely to get picked in the top 20 – via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:
Harry Giles declined his invite sources told DraftExpress.
Did Giles decline his invite because, with his extensive injury history, he feared falling too far? Or did he just prefer to watch elsewhere?
Was Anunoby simply 21st on the NBA’s list of players to invite? Or was the league too unsure of his medical status to include him until getting a stronger grasp now?
I don’t know, but the possibility that Giles could slip or Anunoby is more secure alters my perception of their draft stock (Anunoby up, Giles down).
What has Phil Jackson actually done? He discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis with other teams and called the Knicks, not Porzingis, his priority. That’s it.
At face value, this is fine. It’s what devoted executives, not always Jackson, should do.
Jackson hasn’t traded Porzingis for meager return. He hasn’t traded Porzingis at all.
Everyone up in arms should take a deep breath.
Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks trading Porzingis. The No. 1 pick got traded, after all. I wouldn’t rule out them trading Porzingis for too little return. Look at Jackson’s track record running the front office.
But wait until they do before bashing Jackson for not understanding Porzingis’ value.
There are plenty of better reasons to criticize Jackson, including overseeing the toxic culture that led to Porzingis skipping his exit interview and setting this latest “crisis” into motion. Publicly discussing trading Porzingis won’t endear Jackson to the budding star, but the problem is how it reached this point. Players in sound organizations can handle this. Jackson has engendered little confidence from his players, the distrust existed well before this round of trade talks.
Lonzo Ball doesn’t play for the Lakers. LeBron James isn’t a free agent.
But they’re headed that way – and Ball is already embracing it.
The Lakers are expected to draft Ball No. 2 tonight, and rumors are heating up about LeBron leaving the Cavaliers in 2018.
Why should LeBron join Ball in Los Angeles?
Ball on ESPN:
LeBron, I like to win. I know you like to win. I think our games can help each other out a lot. Any time you want the ball, just let me know. It’s going to be there.
Ball was asked to to pitch LeBron, so it’s not as if Ball is out here talking so brashly on his own. But answering the question was a rookie mistake.
Besides, I’m not sure Lonzo Ball can undo the bad blood between LeBron and LaVar Ball.