Sunday, August 30, 2009
Updated: August 31, 12:32 PM ET
Wolves trying to free Rubio
By Chris Sheridan
Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn spent the weekend in Spain in his latest attempt to bring Ricky Rubio to the NBA.
There was no official word on whether progress was being made in talks with Rubio's current team, DKV Joventut, but a source briefed on the talks said Kahn's continued presence in Spain could be taken as an indication that the odds of Rubio coming to the Wolves next season had improved.
Monday will mark six days since several Spanish media outlets reported an agreement was in place for Joventut to trade Rubio's rights to FC Barcelona for 3.7 million Euros ($5.28 million), and for Rubio to sign a six-year contract with an "affordable" buyout in 2011.
But a source told ESPN.com last Wednesday that "it's not over yet," and that remained the status quo heading into Monday.
For Kahn, this is his third trip to Spain to negotiate for Rubio's rights in the two months since the Wolves selected the 18-year-old with the fifth pick of the NBA draft.
"I'm very proud that the Timberwolves came to Spain to get me," Rubio said, according to El Mundo Deportivo, which reported that Kahn, agent Dan Fegan and Joventut president Jordi Villacampa had dinner together Saturday night.
"It doesn't surprise me because they have been there all the time, and I always said that my priority was to go to the NBA. I know there was a meeting last night, and now there's chances for both sides," Rubio said, according to El Mundo Deportivo.
Rubio's current contract with Joventut includes a 5.7 million Euro ($8.133 million) buyout clause for both this summer and next summer. The buyout drops to zero in the summer of 2011, and Kahn has said the club is willing to wait until then for Rubio to come to the NBA.
But this latest voyage overseas signals a heightened urgency from Kahn, who has not commented publicly since releasing a quote through a team spokesman last Wednesday saying: "Based on the information I have attained today, no team in any league has reached a deal with DKV Joventut concerning Ricky's buyout, which must be accomplished before Ricky is released from his contract with DKV Joventut
Under the NBA collective bargaining agreement, Minnesota is allowed to contribute a maximum of $500,000 toward Rubio's buyout -- a rule that has opened the door for deep-pocketed European clubs, including FC Barcelona, to go after him.
Various reports said the Wolves and Joventut were discussing playing an exhibition game Oct. 10 in Badalona, Spain, as part of the Rubio buyout settlement, but an NBA spokesman said no changes would be permitted to the NBA preseason schedule, which was released earlier this month. Minnesota already is slated for the maximum of eight preseason games.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.