The demand for free agent point guards is not quite as strong and certainly not as lucrative as some seem to think. Look at how the Eric Bledsoe negotiation went this summer compared to Gordon Hayward — the lack of demand at the point left Bledsoe scrambling while Hayward had options.
Enter Ricky Rubio in Minnesota.
Rubio can sign an extension to his rookie deal between now and Halloween, however GM that drafted and saw Rubio as his clever pick and future of the team has been sent out to pasture. Flip Saunders is in that chair now and he isn’t as enamored with Rubio.
Rubio has been after a five-year contract with the Timberwolves, and though he’d like that deal to be a max, there is no doubt Minnesota won’t go that high. In fact, while it has been reported that the two sides are far apart on a number, you can get a sense of just how far — league sources told Sporting News that the Timberwolves’ best offer thus far has been four years in the range of $48 million.
For the record, a max is going to be in the ballpark of five-years, $85 million (depending on league revenues this season). Rubio is not going to get that. He’s not going to get Kenneth Faried money (five years, $60 million, maybe).
To me four and $48 million is fair. Earlier reports had the Timberwolves offer in the four and $42 million range, so maybe the franchise upped the ante a little.
But they don’t need to go higher, for two reasons.
First, Rubio’s not really worth more. I like his game more than most but his shooting needs work — not just his inconsistent jumper, also last season 40 percent of his shots came within three feet of the rim but he hit just 49.1 percent of those. He has to learn to finish. He obviously has great court vision, plays with flair and is a good defender, but right now he’s just not a max guy.
Secondly, the point guard free agent market next summer could be very crowded. Right now Rajon Rondo, Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley, and Kemba Walker will be free agents, and there potentially will be other ball handlers (Monta Ellis can opt out). Rubio is going to struggle to get paid what he wants as teams will have options. They don’t need to overpay.
More and more it looks like Rubio will be on the free agent market next summer, and he may not like what he sees.