However, recent reports, including one from Draft Express on February 22nd, indicate that via Rubio’s representatives, U.S. agent Dan Fegan, negotiations are under way to reduce Rubio’s buyout to three or four million Euros.
Rubio is very likely to be a top three pick in the ’09 draft which would be the most favorable conditions for a possible buyout. ESPN’s Chad Ford follows up with a Feb. 27th report that there are strong indications that Rubio will be available in the upcoming draft.
How does this benefit the Wizards?
Well, obviously, the potential lottery pick for a team currently tied with Oklahoma City for the second worst record in the NBA (two games behind the league worst Sacramento Kings) gets more valuable in what is considered a weak draft.
So, if the Wizards are looking to package either or both of the last year contracts of Etan Thomas and Mike James, the two most preferable to jettison, with a draft pick, the presence of Rubio makes it more enticing for the potential partner. Of course, we won’t know where the Wiz stand in the draft until the season’s over and the draft lottery is held during playoff basketball in May.
What if Washington gets the 2nd pick and wants to keep it?
That would be a nice scenario to have the choice between two “can’t miss” prospects such as Blake Griffin and Rubio. So, let’s assume that Griffin is a lock for #1 overall and the Wiz place in the draft.
Would Rubio be right for the Wizards?
The first thing that comes up in scouting reports for Double-R is “playmaker.” The kid has exceptional court vision. His long range jump shot is a question, along with his athleticism. But the moxie he showed on the world stage in the Olympics and the willingness to play defense, in addition to the more strict hand-checking rules in the U.S., makes Rubio a potential once-in-a-lifetime creator.
Let’s for a second assume that the Wizards will return next year with a starting lineup of Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood. Tentative potential here, contingent on bench strength.
Stevenson’s minutes would be limited with what we anticipate to be back issues for the duration of his career….so in steps Nick Young with scoring punch off the bench. Javaris Crittenton will be around to compete for the #2 PG slot, while also possessing the potential to play alongside Arenas.
All NBA teams need a third point guard, so do you rely on the possible undependable nature of a 19-year old (to be) at that slot? (backing up the developing Crittenton to boot?) Or, would Ernie Grunfeld prefer to keep Mike James on board?
James, who’ll surely take his $6.47 million option for next season, has an expiring contact which will only become more valuable as next year’s trade deadline approaches (pending team record circumstances).
Is James a veteran worth keeping? First of all, he’s not as bad as people think and could be a nice veteran presence, playing for another contract next year — assuming he doesn’t get an ego about himself and unjustifiably demand more burn.
That’s what it all depends on…...a question that A Tribe Called Quest would ask. What pick will the Wizards get? Will potential buyers for expiring contracts be more feasible in the summer, or before the trade deadline in February ’10?
Ernie Grunfeld has his work cut out for him, but he does have options. The presence of Ricky Rubio in that upcoming draft would simply add to those options.
Either way, Wizards fans should do what they usually do…..pray for health. Oh yea, good luck at the draft lottery wouldn’t hurt either.
Knowing the cursed history of this franchise, if either Rubio or Griffin are available, it’d be best for Grunfeld to do what he needs to do to keep the pick. Time and Abe Pollin’s pocket book flexibility will only tell.