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Is Ricky Rubio the most puzzling piece to the NBA Draft?

Darnell Mayberry Published: June 21, 2009
/articleid/3379482/1/pictures/582292">Photo - Photo illustration by Phillip Baeza, The Oklahoman
Photo illustration by Phillip Baeza, The Oklahoman

Griffin is the no-brainer selection for the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 1 even if they would like to unload Baron Davis' contract and bring in an exciting young point guard like Rubio. That leaves Memphis and Oklahoma City, owners of the second and third selections, to then decide whether to take Rubio despite drafting their respective point guards — Mike Conley Jr. and Russell Westbrook — with the fourth overall picks in 2007 and 2008.

Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, reportedly doesn't want him to play for the Grizzlies and wouldn't schedule a visit or workout with the Grizzlies. A stalemate could ensue if Memphis picks him anyway.

The Thunder likely would have to move Westbrook to shooting guard if it selected and kept Rubio, a decision that is more of a last-ditch option rather than a preferred one. The Grizzlies, or Thunder if Memphis passes, also have the option of selecting Rubio and brokering a trade to teams like Minnesota, Golden State or New York, who pick sixth, seventh and eighth and all have point guard quandaries.

Sacramento is in need of a point guard but lost all its leverage when the draft lottery's ping-pong balls determined it would pick fourth despite finishing with the league's worst record. Fegan is directing Rubio to the Kings, and Rubio recently wrapped up a two-day visit to Sacramento, his only appearance with an NBA team thus far.

But the Kings could be searching for a different style of point guard than Rubio. Memphis guard Tyreke Evans and Florida guard Nick Calathes are both scheduled to work out today in Sacramento for the second time, this time in a session that will include Davidson's Stephen Curry.

There are plenty of reasons to love Rubio, his passing, floor leadership and marketability. But for every admirable characteristic lies a chink in his armor — gambles defensively, turnover prone, streaky shooter, average athlete.

And then there are the legalities.

Rubio has a buyout with his Spanish team, DKV Joventut, estimated at $6.6 million. Rubio's camp has filed a lawsuit against the club, claiming that the figure is disproportionate to the estimated $97,000 the player made last season. If an agreement is not reached, Rubio could be forced to return to Spain, and his buyout is believed to increase by another $1.4 million next season.

The issue could leave Rubio overseas another two years after a team drafts him.

"There could be all sorts of legacies for this," Ford said. "If he turns out to be a fantastic player, some guys could lose their jobs over passing up a guy like Rubio. He has that sort of talent.

"On the flip side, if he decides to stay in Europe if he's unhappy with his team or he can't work out of his buyout, he could become the cautionary tale for GMs for a long time about drafting a kid without really understanding all the circumstances around who he is and what you have to take on."


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