UPDATE: It is official, Ricky Rubio has been traded to the Utah Jazz. Minnesota will receive Oklahoma City’s 2018 first-round pick, which is lottery protected (if it does not convey next year, it has the same protections in 2019 and 2020).
Tom Thibodeau isn’t sold on Ricky Rubio as his point guard in Minnesota, even though Rubio defends and played well last season. Utah needs a quality point guard to have any shot at retaining Gordon Hayward, and it looks more and more like the Jazz will lose George Hill.
So Minnesota and Utah are nearing a trade, something first reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports, then followed up by Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune. Marc Stein of ESPN had details.
Utah had enough cap space to eat the contract of Rubio in the current fiscal year (2016-17 season), but that went away at midnight Eastern. This trade has to happen today or not at all.
What it means for Utah is they acknowledge that Hill is likely gone as a free agent. While some positive spin about keeping him has come out of Utah in the last 24 hours, more sources around the league say Hill was not happy with some things at the end of last season and was ready to move on.
Gordon Hayward is a big George Hill fan, and there has been a feeling around the league that if Hill leaves — even if he were replaced by Rubio — Hill is more likely to leave.
It also leaves a massive hole at point guard in Minnesota, and enough cap space to offer near max money to bring in a big name. For some time now the Timberwolves have been linked to Kyle Lowry, a free agent who is a perfect fit — he can run the offense and get buckets, he’s the kind of three-point shooter they need to space the floor, and he can defend.
Toronto will still work to keep Lowry north of the border, but he has real options now to consider. If Lowry does stay with the Raptors, multiple reports now have Jeff Teague as the guy who Minnesota would target. George Hill also becomes a good option. Minnesota will have the room to make plays.