- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Ricky Rubio is coming to Minnesota after all.

The Spanish point guard has agreed to join the Timberwolves next season, ending a drawn-out, delicate, two-year negotiation with the team that had many league observers believing he did not want to play in Minnesota.

A person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday night that Rubio will be here next season, given the woebegone Timberwolves a much-needed dose of good news. The person requested anonymity because neither Rubio nor the Timberwolves planned to make an official announcement while he continues to play for Regal Barcelona in the Spanish league playoffs.

The Timberwolves drafted Rubio fifth overall two years ago despite a buyout of his Spanish contract that topped $6 million. The enormity of the buyout caused Rubio to stay overseas rather than immediately come to the NBA, and there was talk that the precocious teenager did not want to play in Minnesota.

The current labor uncertainty complicated the negotiations. But Rubio ultimately decided he was ready to come over now.

Timberwolves spokesman Mike Cristaldi said the team was declining comment.

“As of now, we have nothing new to report,” Cristaldi said.

The news marks the successful end to a long, and often winding, dalliance between the Timberwolves and Rubio. With help from owner Glen Taylor, coach Kurt Rambis and assistant GM Tony Ronzone, Wolves President David Kahn spent almost two years working to convince Rubio to realize his dream of playing in the NBA in Minnesota.

The Wolves were careful not to put too much pressure on the youngster yet still emphasizing how much the team was looking forward to bringing the slick-passer to the United States.

Kahn called Rubio “a virtuoso and somebody special” after drafting him in 2009. He and agent Dan Fegan came to agreement to bring Rubio over to the NBA that summer, but Rubio pulled out at the last minute after deciding he did not want to pay a buyout that topped $6 million out of his own pocket.

That led to speculation that Rubio did not want to play in cold, small-market Minnesota and was hoping to force a trade to a bigger, more desirable market. But Rubio never expressed that himself, and the team remained confident through thick and thin that Rubio would one day join them.

Ricky Rubio, huh?” Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love tweeted late Wednesday night. “I’ll believe it when I see it…”

His tweets continued: “Just thinking about pick and rolls…goodnight.


Under current NBA rules, the Timberwolves can only contribute $500,000 to Rubio’s buyout from Regal Barcelona. But by staying in Spain for another two years, Rubio’s buyout has now dropped to a more manageable $1.4 million.

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