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Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Ricky Rubio's Nuclear Option


Already it seems a thousand articles have been written about the intricate dance unfolding between Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

One thing that really impresses me: Minnesota GM David Kahn has skillfully removed the Rubio camp's biggest threat. In any normal situation they would have said give us what we want or we'll stay in Europe. But before the music even really started, right there on draft night, Kahn was assuring everyone that Rubio might stay in Europe and that's just fine. The Timberwolves, he said, are more than willing to wait.

That sends the message to everyone that the Timberwolves are ready for good offers, but not bad ones.

The Rubio camp does still have a big hammer, though, and it's one that has almost never been used.

Rubio can sit out a year, and re-enter next year's draft.

The way the collective bargaining agreement works, the Timberwolves hold Rubio's NBA rights so long as they make him an offer, and he plays professional ball in some FIBA-sanctioned league, which is just about all of the leagues he'd consider playing in.

But if he doesn't play professionally anywhere, then he can be right back in next year's draft.

You can only do this once -- no one can be drafted more than twice.

Clearly, this is an illogical move. To leave his Spanish team, he'd still have a buyout, only now coupled with almost no income at all. (Barnstorming Nike tour, anyone?)

But he could certainly get himself some elite basketball training, maybe a year of being a college student, followed by a career with a team more to his liking. It might at least be worth threatening that, as a way to imbue the Timberwolves with some urgency.

You know what would be just hilarious, though? If Rubio actually did sit out the year, and somehow or another the Timberwolves drafted him again.