Timberwolves executives on Ricky Rubio quest again

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General Manager David Kahn and the Minnesota Timberwolves are nothing if not persistent.

Next week they will be in Spain again on their quest to get Ricky Rubio — the 2009 No. 5 overall pick — to sign up, leave Barcelona and come to the states.

And according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, they once again believe they can really make it happen this time. I know, I know, but they believe he may take the $1 million buyout.

Why would he sign now if there could a player lockout, perhaps a lengthy one?

No. 1: The security provided by signing under the current labor agreement rather than risk the new one.

No. 2: He has played professionally since he was 14, many years practically year round because of Spanish national team commitments to the Olympics, World and European championships. A rest until December or January — or beyond — wouldn’t hurt him.

Let’s talk about No. 2 first — there is a something there. As Zgoda points out earlier in his piece, Rubio’s game has regressed this season. He has never developed a jump shot that anyone must respect and that has started to really impact every aspect of his game. He could use a new setting, new coaching. Plus, the NBA rules prohibiting any contact on the perimeter will suit him better than Europe, where the game is allowed to be more physical.

But issue No. 1, the money thing, that’s where the Minnesota logic breaks down. And in the end it’s always about the money.

The NBA rookie scale is already very restrictive — Rubio would take more than a 50 percent pay cut to leave Barcelona for the Wolves right now, and he would be locked into that rookie deal for at least three and more likely five years. The new CBA may make the rookie scale a little smaller, but the owners are far more concerned about long-term free agent deals and restricting those than the rookie scale. The owners love the rookie scale.

If Rubio waits a third year after his draft (one more season), he is no longer subject to the NBA rookie scale. This is what Tiago Splitter did to the Spurs — he waited it out then came over on his own financial terms.

Combine the lockout and the money, and it is hard to see the logic of Rubio signing with Minnesota for next season.

But Kahn and the Timberwolves are on a quest, and any good quest should be about trying in the face of nearly impossible odds. So have at it.

PBT Podcast: Early trade deadline breakdown with Dan Feldman

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The NBA’s trade market did not collapse after the Jahlil Okafor trade.

There’s more to come, but with the trade deadline is less than two months away, we have more questions than answers. DeAndre Jordan very likely could be on the move from the Clippers (and Lou Williams, too). But what is Memphis going to do about Mark Gasol? New Orleans with DeMarcus Cousins? Oklahoma City with Paul George? And if any of those guys are available, who is a buyer? Cleveland? Milwaukee? Portland?

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down the high end of the trade market, plus talk about other guys who could be on the move — maybe Nikola Mirotic from Chicago, and what about someone like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from Charlotte — before Feb. 8 gets here. The last couple of trade deadlines have been interesting, but will we see a move that changes the landscape of the NBA playoffs in a meaningful way?

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Joel Embiid calls out Karl Anthony-Towns’ defense during Instagram trash talk

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Joel Embiid often gloats on Instagram after 76ers wins.

Of course he did after Philadelphia beat Minnesota on Tuesday, specifically calling attention to this move on Karl-Anthony Towns (and this 76ers fan custom):

Embiid:

Euro stepping our way through Minnesota and we ended up raising the cat last night #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Towns commented:

That caption was as trash as your picture quality

Embiid replied:

Better quality than your defense

Embiid insisted it’s all in good fun.

Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

https://twitter.com/JCameratoNBCS/status/941395953113804800

I’m not sure Towns is having as much fun as Towns. But I know this:

Embiid had a valid point.

Salah Mejri kicks at Patty Mills as Mavericks and Spurs leave court for halftime (video)

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Mavericks center Salah Mejri has a history of agitating, including against the Spurs.

Two years ago, Mejri dunked while Dallas got blown out by San Antonio and yapped at the Spurs bench – drawing laughter from Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. Last season, Mejri had Trevor Ariza and other Rockets trying to confront him after reportedly saying something about Ariza’s family.

In the Mavericks’ win over the Spurs on Tuesday, Mejri got into it with Patty Mills.

Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com:

Mejri and Rudy Gay received double technical fouls, and Mejri went to the bench. Everything could have cooled down at halftime, but Mejri escalated tension

Watch the full sequence above, but the key moment:

giphy (2)

That’ll probably draw a fine.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.