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Ricky Rubio confirms he’s joining Timberwolves
The highly touted 20-year-old Spanish guard ended two years of speculation Friday, saying “I have finally decided to start the journey” to the NBA.
“It is my dream and I want to fulfill it,” he said. “After thinking about it a lot, the time has arrived.”
The Timberwolves chose Rubio with the No. 5 pick in the 2009 NBA draft, but his $6 million buyout clause at Barcelona _ of which an NBA team could pay only $500,000 under league rules _ made him stay in Spain until it came down to a more manageable $1.4 million.
“I think all that I have won here gives me strength to go,” Rubio said.
But Rubio is coming off perhaps the most disappointing season of his career. His dropped to 6.5 points per game and even lost his starting spot on the Barcelona team.
Speaking at a packed news conference at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium _ where Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola usually address the media _ Rubio acknowledged that he didn’t have his best season.
“Individually, I could have done things better, but it is a team sport and we had success,” Rubio said, adding that he was not going to the NBA because of a need to jump start his game.
“I am going because I feel prepared,” Rubio said. “I want to play against the best players in the world.”
Barcelona secured the Spanish league title last week, and Rubio knows he might have to wait a while for another trophy. Minnesota was an NBA-worst 17-65 last season and is in dire need for a capable point guard.
“It will mean a change of mentality” Rubio said. “Perhaps we won’t be fighting for the title, but we will have other goals. I am willing to do whatever the team needs to win as many games as possible.”
Many NBA observers thought this day would never come, speculating that Rubio would try to force his way out of small-market Minnesota to play for a higher profile franchise in a bigger city. But Timberwolves president David Kahn stayed patient, never pressuring the precocious teenager and delicately negotiating until Rubio made the decision that he was ready to come to the United States.
Many also think that Rubio is better suited to the NBA than the European game, which is played on smaller courts and doesn’t give guards as much room to operate on the perimeter.
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