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Deal heats up race for Ricky Rubio

Darnell Mayberry Modified: June 24, 2009 at 9:08 am •  Published: June 24, 2009
Just as the Thunder appeared to step up it's pursuit of Ricky Rubio, a new suitor may have entered the chase.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, who reportedly are now armed with four first-round picks in Thursday's NBA Draft, may be in prime position to make a play for the Spanish point guard sensation.

According to multiple reports, Minnesota has acquired the fifth overall pick in Thursday night's NBA draft from Washington in five-player deal that will send Mike Miller and Randy Foye to the Wizards. The deal would give the Wolves selection Nos. 5, 6, 18 and 28 in the first round. is reporting Minnesota will keep its top two selections. But a report out of Minnesota on Monday said the Wolves were trying to secure last-minute meetings with both Rubio and projected top three pick Hasheem Thabeet.

News of the trade came just hours after The Oklahoman confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report that the Thunder has hired a Spanish law firm to assist with Rubio's troublesome multi-million dollar buyout in case Oklahoma City drafts him.

Memphis owns the No. 2 pick, but there's been nothing to indicate Rubio will land there. The Grizzlies drafted point guard Mike Conley Jr. with the fourth overall pick in 2007 and have a more pressing need for size. Rubio's camp also has refused to allow Rubio to meet with or workout for Memphis officials and Rubio's agent reportedly has advised the Grizzlies to not draft Rubio.

The bind — if Memphis doesn't secretly covet Thabeet — could cause the Grizzlies to explore trading the second pick to Minnesota in exchange for the fifth and sixth selections.

If the Wolves do keep the fifth and sixth picks, Rubio still could fall to the Thunder at No. 3. But if Minnesota is indeed open to trading its first two picks, one scenario that could play out Thursday night could see the Thunder and Wolves swapping top six selections.

Oklahoma City could offer Minnesota a package that includes the No. 3 pick in exchange for picks No. 5 and No. 6, giving the Wolves a chance to still land Rubio if Memphis passes him up.

It would suggest the Thunder isn't sold on Rubio or deems a potential pairing of, say, Arizona State's James Harden and Davidson's Stephen Curry, a better overall fit long term.

But if Oklahoma City is sold on Rubio, the question is does the Thunder covet him enough to enter a potential bidding war?