Ricky Rubio is heading to the Utah Jazz in exchange for a 2018 first-round pick, keeping a wild start to the NBA offseason going
With the new league year set to begin and 2017 NBA free agency ready to kick into gear, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz got the ball rolling with another high-profile trade. After being rumored to be on the block for some time now, point guard Ricky Rubio is finally on the move.
As first reported by Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, the Jazz will be getting the services of the Spanish guard. In return, the Timberwolves will first get cap space, but too will acquire a first-round pick in the 2018 draft. That pick will come by way of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who originally owned the pick before sending it to Utah in a separate, previous deal.
Rubio leaving now sets up Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves for more deals in free agency. It also shows their hand to a degree, especially when coupled with other moves this offseason. Meanwhile, the Jazz fill a hole on their roster without having to go through free agency.
So with this deal in place, let’s take a look at how each team fared in the deal.
Jazz get Ricky Rubio, PG
Timberwolves get 2018 First-Round pick (via OKC)
With George Hill’s impending free agency, the Jazz were behind the 8-ball to a degree. In addition to Hill, it seemed like the chances of Gordon Hayward returning to Utah were minimal at best. Subsequently, they had to go fill voids where they could and had reported interest in Rubio for several weeks now.
However unsurprising the move, though, one has to wonder what they plan to do with Rubio now that Hayward will no longer be a part of the team. On one hand, Rubio fits the mold of a defensive-minded guard, which should help the Jazz continue working towards being a defensive stalwart. With that being said, Rubio also is limited to his playmaking offensively as his shot is deemed unfixable at this point in his career — even if he’s still (somehow) only 26 years old.
All in all, the potential and likely losses of Hayward and Hill put the Jazz in a tough spot from the get go. To aggressively make a move that will better the team’s overall plight and still leave them free to make more moves in free agency is a solid ploy by the team.
Perhaps my feelings towards Rubio are a bit more favorable than some, but he should fit well into the Jazz defense. What’s more, he also should help to improve the stock of players like Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors, and potentially even help Rudy Gobert bud further on the offensive end. So while he has his shortcomings, he should be a nice fit in Utah.
This is where objectivity comes into play a bit. From my perspective, Rubio would’ve been a perfect fit on the Timberwolves after the addition of Jimmy Butler. He would’ve been a defensive stalwart on the perimeter, creating a very formidable unit on that end of the floor with the new arrival for the Wolves. Meanwhile, he’s still a phenomenal facilitator that would set up the wings and big men of Minnesota quite well.
With that being said, the Timberwolves have largely been intent on moving Rubio for some time. Given that type of pressure, there’s a chance he wouldn’t have even fully been given the chance to succeed. As a potentially rich free agency period lies ahead for them as they’ve now become an attractive destination — or at least much more so — they now clear up cap space for move moves, including at point guard.
The one potential snag that I see with the deal outside of liking how Rubio would’ve fit is that they are now exceptionally thin at point guard. Kris Dunn was sent to the Chicago Bulls in the Butler trade, which means they’ve now traded both of their point guards this offseason. That tips their hand in terms of pursuing talent at the position on the open market, sure. However, you have to wonder what kind of depth they’ll bring in.
Just given the plans for this Timberwolves team, it makes sense to move Rubio in this manner. To clear cap room and get a first-round pick in return is a solid trade for Minnesota, even if the guy they traded would’ve been fun to see with their current roster. They’re clearly starting to make moves to “go for it” in the 2017-18 season. Dealing Rubio, more or less, was a necessary evil to further that process along.