Trade rumors surround Steve Nash, even though the two-time MVP is not available, per the Phoenix Suns. Nash's team is at .500 and chasing a playoff spot, but don't figure to contend for a championship before the point guard's contract ends in 2012; ergo, teams think they can pry Nash away.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of those teams, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. The reporter cites a team source that indicates Minnesota would love to pry Nash from the Suns so that he could groom the next great Wolves point guard, Ricky Rubio.
I've likewise heard, despite all the factors listed here that make us question why the Wolves would even bother chasing Nash, they have not offered Rubio to the Suns for a different reason. In the Wolves' Nash fantasy, I'm told, they dream of constructing a multi-team deal that brings Nash to Sota as a mentor for Rubio.
Rubio, Minnesota's No. 5 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, refused to join the Wolves, instead working out a deal to play for his hometown Barcelona in the Spanish ACB. He has an opt-out following this season, and could exit for the NBA in time for the 2011-12 season; Nash is under contract through 2011-12.
However, if Rubio does enter the NBA this season, he would be forced to sign a rookie-scale contract worth $12.6 million over four seasons. If he waits until 2012-13 to enter the NBA, he would not be bound by the limits of the rookie scale, and could sign a much more lucrative first contract, much as Brazilian forward Tiago Splitter did after being drafted by the Spurs several years ago.
There is also the matter of the potential NBA lockout. Rubio would have to opt out of his Barcelona contract and hope that the NBA worked out its labor issue. If he opted out and the NBA season was canceled, Rubio would be paid $0 by the Wolves. He is making a couple million dollars a year in Barcelona, and would have to pay a buy-out to leave, even after this season. The Wolves could only contribute $500,000 to that buy-out.
In other words, Rubio would have to risk giving up his entire salary in 2011-12 and the difference in what the Wolves would pay him in 2012 and the rookie scale amount. If the Wolves trade considerable assets to land Nash now or this summer without a firm commitment from Rubio, they risk paying for a tutor for Jonny Flynn and not Ricky.