- The Washington Times - Friday, September 4, 2009

Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards would come to rue the day they sent the No. 5 pick to the Timberwolves and received Randy Foye and Mike Miller in exchange.

That was one of the initial spins of the post-draft analysis after Ricky Rubio slid to the fifth spot in the draft and David Kahn snatched him up as if he were the second coming of Pete Maravich.

That quickie judgment looks so naive now, so off base, after Rubio jolted Kahn and the Timberwolves this week by electing to stay with FC Barcelona the next two seasons.

This was after Kahn did everything he could to become Rubio’s new best friend and appeared to have a deal in place last weekend.

Now Kahn has been put on hold the next two seasons, if not longer, because it will behoove Rubio to extend his stay to three seasons and no longer be bound by the NBA’s rookie salary scale.

Kahn, of course, is maintaining a brave front, saying he expects the point guard to keep his word and join the Timberwolves in two seasons. But Kahn had Rubio’s word last weekend, and that did not turn out so well.

Not that the time frame necessarily matters in Kahn’s case.

It is deals like this one that often lead to the abrupt departure of personnel gurus.

Kahn surrendered two solid players to the Wizards and ended up with nothing other than a see-you-in-two-years promise.

All kinds of things can happen in two years in the NBA, most of it not good if you are Kahn and looking to lead a franchise out of the nether reaches of the Western Conference.

Rubio was just the tonic to keep hope alive while the losses accumulate during the bitterly cold winter months in Minnesota. That hope is now a distant one.

Grunfeld has no regrets on this deal. Nor did he have any the day after the draft. He knew Rubio was a problematic pick because of the buyout clause in his contract. And he knew the Wizards - built to win now - had no use for a player who will need three or four seasons to develop into whatever he will be.

And let’s be clear: Rubio is not necessarily destined to be an All-Star, notwithstanding the hype. He likes to make the pretty pass. He sees the floor well. But his perimeter shooting touch and defensive ability are lacking.

What he does have is a certain flair about him, a certain joy. Yet the same could have been said of Jason Williams, the erstwhile White Chocolate who drove coaches into fits of consternation with his cutesy passes that ended up as turnovers.

Even if Rubio eventually becomes a franchise player, the move to snag Foye and Miller was the right one given where the Wizards are.

Either they rebound in a compelling way this season or change could come to their core of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood.

Rubio was not about to facilitate the emergence of the Wizards this season.

And the Wizards already are playing the waiting game with Andray Blatche and Nick Young, who have a way of teasing the fan base but have yet to produce in a substantive way.

Is Blatche going to figure out how to be a professional under Flip Saunders? Is easing the cerebral challenges on Young and having him run off screens in the manner of Richard Hamilton going to produce consistent results?

Rubio undoubtedly will provoke a series of questions once he undergoes his get-acquainted session in the NBA.

The Wizards did not need another set of questions enveloping a young player with potential after being stuck in an injury-induced purgatory the last two-plus seasons.

And they certainly did not need to be feeling what the Timberwolves are feeling now.

Given Rubio’s brush-off, Grunfeld’s deal looks even better than the day it was made.

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