Two years after drafting Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves finally signed the second coming of “Pistol” Pete to a contract Monday.
That’s right, Ricky Rubio is taking his talents to ... the Twin Cities!
A person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed the signing to the Associated Press on Wednesday night.
The signing ends a two-year negotiation with Rubio’s Spanish team FC Barcelona that at times felt an awful lot like Rubio’s camp was chanelling Wizards perimeter-dweller Yi Jianlian’s initial trepidation about playing in Milwaukee. But after two years, it seems the 20-year-old — who never publicly voiced a desire not to play in Minnesota — is now ready to ditch Barcelona for the Twin Cities.
Here’s some video of Ricky doing what he does best (to the tune of “Free Bird”)...
The down-on-their-luck Timberwolves took the plunge in drafting a then-18-year-old Rubio despite a buyout clause in his Spanish contract of more than $6 million. With Rubio forced to shoulder the bulk of that financial burden himself, he made the decision to stay in Spain. As recently as last week, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor explained Rubio’s reservations about crossing the Atlantic with an unsettled labor situation and a lockout looming.
In August 2006, Rubio garnered “oohs” and “aahs” from the international hoops community when he posted a remarkable 51 points, 24 rebounds, 12 assists and seven steals in a 110-106 double-overtime voctory over Russia in the FIBA Europe Under-16 championship.
Before the 2009 draft, our own Michael Lee shared his thoughts on the budding international star after watching him play during the Beijing Olympics:
“The physical likeness to “Pistol” Pete Maravich was undeniable, but so were the creative passes and controlled cockiness that Maravich possessed.”
Lee wondered aloud whether the Wizards might take a chance on the kid, depending on how the lottery shook out. Well, as luck would have it, Washington landed the No. 5 pick that year ... and traded it to Minnesota, which then drafted Rubio.
But after two years of waiting for a payoff, count double-double machine Kevin Love as one of the skeptics in need of concrete physical proof that the Spanish passing wizard is actually NBA-bound.
Ricky Rubio huh? I’ll believe it when I see it...
But his skepticism quickly gave way to dreams of a new double-double sidekick.
Just thinking about pick and rolls...goodnight