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Ricky Rubio traded to Jazz for 2018 first-round pick, per report

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Rubio to the Jazz could clear space for the Timberwolves to land a marquee point guard this summer.

Charlotte Hornets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves completed a deal to trade point guard Ricky Rubio to the Utah Jazz, according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania. In exchange, the Timberwolves receive Oklahoma City’s 2018 first-round pick, shedding cap space to set up a big splash for an All-Star caliber point guard when free agency starts after midnight Friday.

The Timberwolves are now interested in replacing Rubio with either George Hill or Jeff Teague, according USA Today’s Sam Amick.

The Jazz are in a unique situation: they have $16 million in available cap space that expires when the clock strikes midnight. Afterwards, the NBA calendar flips to the 2017-18 season and Utah can no longer take on additional contracts for the new year.

For Minnesota, the deal opens the door for a point guard acquisition. By potentially shipping both Rubio and Kris Dunn in a one-week span, the franchise is pressing the big red button at the most important position. But this year’s free agent pool is loaded with All-Star caliber guards, including Kyle Lowry, George Hill, Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose.

Rubio averaged 11 points, 9 assists, and 1.7 steals per game for the Timberwolves last season but was unable to improve from distance, shooting just 30.5 percent from three-point range. He has two more years left on his contract worth just under $29 million.

What the Jazz get

Rubio is one of the league’s most creative, impressive playmakers. While not much of a scoring threat, the Spanish distributor is consistently regarded as one of the best passers in the league.

Rubio is a selfless guard who looks to get his teammates involved. Unfortunately, his inability to shoot from the perimeter lends itself to defenders sagging and eventually helping on others. As a result, Rubio becomes a rare offensive liability at times, despite his passing wizardry.

Rubio, though a six-year veteran, is only 26 years old and has yet to enter the prime of his career. He joins a core group of young, athletic Jazz wings and a towering two-way center in Rudy Gobert.

What the Timberwolves get

Two words: cap space.

Minnesota sheds Rubio’s $14.1 million cap hit for the 2017-18 season. In doing so, the Timberwolves now only have about $61 million in guaranteed salaries this summer, freeing up salary to sign a marquee free agent to a max or near-max salary.

The Timberwolves already made a splash by trading Dunn and Zach LaVine to the Bulls for Jimmy Butler. Minnesota can now make a run at one of several point guards available in the market, with Kyle Lowry being connected to the Timberwolves’ coaching staff.

Just a summer after finishing 31-51 outside of the playoffs, the Wolves have an opportunity to pair an All-Star point guard with Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. That’s a core group that could make noise in the Western Conference when the season starts in late October.