What Can We Get For Rubio?

Now that the dust has settled from the 2016 draft and we can turn our focus towards free agency and the coming season, it’s time to look at some of the potential trade partners the new regime could contact should they decide to trade Ricky Rubio this summer.

Earlier, we looked at why the Wolves should hold onto both of their exciting lead guards, but if yesterday was about preaching patience and rational analysis, today is for daydreaming about what could be.

Despite point guard being arguably the deepest position in the league, there are a fair amount of teams that are either in desperate need of an upgrade or run the risk of losing their current floor generals either to free agency or the White Walkers. Here’s the rundown of teams in need of a point guard, and some ideas for NBA Trade Machine-approved deals:

Brooklyn Nets:

PG under contract: Shane Larkin (23), Jarrett Jack (32)

Potential Trade: Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, and a heavily-protected future first round pick for Brook Lopez

Why Brooklyn Does it:

By dealing Thad Young for the 20th pick in the draft, the Nets indicated that they’re finally willing to go into full-on rebuild mode. Brook Lopez is the last vestige of Mikhail Prokhorov’s failed title bid, and this deal gives them a youngish PG on a long-term, under-market contract and adds to their slowly growing collection of young assets.

Why Minnesota Does it:

While his injury history might give Wolves’ fans Pekovic-induced acid flashbacks, the 27-year old big man put up 20.6 points, 7.8 boards, and 1.7 blocks last season. If healthy, he and Towns would be one of the best offensive front lines in the league, and he’s an underrated rim protector and willing passer (2.2 assists per game). Should the Wolves make the playoffs, he gives them a steadying presence that could play on the block or in the high post. He’s also on a very reasonable contract for the next two seasons, by which time hopefully the young core will be ready to compete with out him.

Should this happen? Probably not. Odds are, both teams can get better hauls than this, and it would push Towns to the four, which is not playing to his strengths.

Chicago Bulls:

PG under contract: Jose Calderon (34), Jerian Grant (24), Spencer Dinwiddie (23, non-guaranteed contract)

Potential Trade: Ricky Rubio for Bobby Portis, Doug McDermott, and Jose Calderon.

Why Chicago Does it:

After dealing Rose, the Bulls need a real point guard if they are to have any chance of getting into the postseason, even in the East. This deal would allow them to run out a starting five of Rubio, Butler, Dunleavy, Mirotic, and RoLo, which has potential to be a potent unit on both ends of the floor. Rubio’s selflessness and desire to set his teammates up will allow him to mesh better with Butler than Rose ever did.

Why Minnesota Does it:

The two biggest needs on this team are shooting and a power foward of the future. This trade gives them a shot at both. Calderon on a one-year deal would be a good backup PG and mentor for Dunn, McDermott gives some firepower off the bench, and Wolves fans would love Portis. He gets himself pumped for games by imagining the opposing team slapping his mom, he has a decent outside shot, and he plays with the kind of fire you want to see from a young big man. If he improved his shooting and learned how to pass, he would be a great complement to the young core.

Should this happen? I know Wolves fans would be pissed to do a deal with the Bulls and not come away with Butler, but the more I think about this deal, the more I like it. I’m skeptical Chicago would go for it, but I would be very happy with this trade.

Dallas Mavericks:

PG under contract: Devin Harris (33), JJ Barea (32)

Potential Trade: Ricky Rubio for Wesley Matthews

Why Dallas Does it:

Dallas is currently composed of a hodgepodge of one-year contracts, washed-up vets and reclamation projects. Odds are they won’t be willing to trade the only young players they’ve had in years (Justin Anderson and Dwight Powell), and if they did, it wouldn’t and shouldn’t be enough to get Rubio. With this deal, they get to swap an injury-prone 29-year old shooting guard for an injury-prone 25-year old point guard.

Why Minnesota Does it:

In a vacuum in which Matthews still has all the ligaments in his knees, he’s actually a perfect Thibs guy–a rugged defender who can guard multiple positions, hit outside shots, and be a positive locker room influence. If he were three years younger, he might be a perfect fit next to Wiggins and Dunn, giving them an absolute monster of a defensive backcourt. Alas, he is not.

Should this happen?

Dallas is officially eliminated from the sweepstakes.

Memphis Grizzlies:

PG under contract: Tony Wroten (23), Wade Baldwin IV (20)

Potential Trade: n/a

The Grizz have nothing but Marc Gasol to offer the Wolves, and there’s no way they’re making that offer. Here’s a list of players under contract in Memphis: Gasol, Z-Bo, Vinsanity, Brandon Wright, Tony Allen, Jordan Adams, JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin. Anyone interested?

What Can We Get For Rubio?

Milwaukee Bucks:

PG under contract: Michael Carter-Williams (24), Tyler Ennis (21)

Potential Trade: Ricky Rubio and Adriean Payne for Greg Monroe and a future protected pick

Why Milwaukee Does it:

I don’t see this working, as Point Giannis needs a shooting PG who can thrive off the ball, and that is certainly not Rubio. But this would allow them to beef up their D by putting John Henson into the starting lineup and Kidd has reportedly has his eye on Rubio for a while (and apparently is now calling at least some of the shots).

Why Minnesota Does it:

Beats me.

Should this happen?

New Orleans Pelicans:

PG under contract: Jrue Holiday (26), Toney Douglas (30), Tim Frazier (25, Qualifying Offer)

Potential Trade: Ricky Rubio for Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter, 2018 first-round pick

Why New Orleans Does it:

Holiday is on a minutes limit and is an expiring contract. The Pelicans desperately need someone who can run Gentry’s fast-paced system, feed Davis and Buddy Hield in transition, and help out on D in order to get back to the playoffs. That certainly sounds like Rubio to me! Plus the Pels are the only team that makes the Knicks look downright stingy when it comes to dealing future picks.

Why Minnesota Does it:

Tyreke is a creative ball-handler who stuffs the stat sheet when healthy, and maybe escaping the voodoo swamp curse of the Smoothie King Arena would help his and Pondexter’s injury misfortune. Pondexter is a versatile 3-and-D wing locked up for the next two years. And with how terribly that team is run, the 2018 pick has as much chance of being top-5 as it does being mid-20s.

Should this happen? I’m sure Pels fans would think so, but for the Wolves, this is the kind of win-now trap new management groups fall into that makes fans’ guillotine fingers start getting twitchy.

Philadelphia 76ers:

PGs under contract: Kendall Marshall (25), TJ McConnell (24)

Potential Trade: Ricky Rubio and a future pick for Nerlens Noel and Jerami Grant

Why Philadelphia Does it:

Philly would rather get a PG who can actually shoot, but should they strike out in free agency, they’ll need an actual NBA player who can guard the elite floor generals of the league and take some  burden off rookie Ben Simmons’ shoulders. They also clear up their some of their big man logjam and pick up another future pick.

Why Minnesota Does it:

This is a watered-down version of the trade they reportedly rejected during the draft, except that instead of Robert Covington, they land Jerami Grant, a still-raw 22-year old wing with great size (6’8 with a 7’2 wingspan) and defensive instincts and the potential to someday be able to shoot a bit. Noel is the real prize, though–only the third player ever to average 10 points, 8 boards, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals in each of his first two NBA seasons (Hakeem and David Robinson being the other two). As I wrote about yesterday, Noel wouldn’t be the absolute perfect fit with Towns, but he’d be pretty damn good.

Should this happen? I liked the package on draft night better, but now that Philly got two good fits with their late picks, this seems more likely. It’s not amazing, but it gives the Wolves two more young athletes and defensive specimens for Thibs to play around with. It could be fun.

Sacramento Kings:

PGs under contract: Darren Collison (28)

Potential Trade: Ricky Rubio and Adriean Payne for Ben McLemore, Skal Labissiere, and Kosta Koufos

Why Sacramento Does it:

It’s time for the McLemore experiment in Sacramento to come to an end. To say he hasn’t developed as hoped is an understatement–in the last three drafts, the Kings have taken two more shooting guards in the first round. Skal is an interesting piece, but the Kings are loaded with big men and don’t have the patience or ability to develop projects. Koufos is a solid big man, but with Boogie, Trill Willie, and newest lotto pick Georgios Papagiannis all needing burn, he’s expendable. Rubio can become what they thought Rondo would be, and Payne could fit with any of the Kings big men if he ever becomes a playable stretch 4.

Why Minnesota Does it:

Thibs could be just the guy to tap McLemore’s infinite potential as a two-way wing. McLemore shot a career-best 36.2% from three last season, and is a great athlete who should become a good defender. Skal can come along slowly and eventually replace Dieng in the starting lineup, and should he reach even a fraction of his potential, will mesh well with Towns. Koufos is a solid backup big on a great contract who could be easily moved at any time.

Should this happen? Absolutely. There’s risk — neither of the big names the Wolves would be getting back are anywhere close to a sure thing, but this could be a gamble that pays off in spades down the road.

So there we have it!

I’m sure none of the options are as much of a return as Wolves fans would want for their beloved Spaniard, but Rubio is a really difficult player to gauge the value on. He clearly has more value to this team than he would fetch in return, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting options out there.

What do you think, readers? Would you do any of these trades if you were GM?

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