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.
Source confirms Jazz sending OKC 2018 first round pick to Minnesota in Rubio deal. @1280Spence first to report compensation— Tony Jones (@tribjazz) June 30, 2017
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.