New York Knicks: Potential Ricky Rubio Pursuit Should be Avoided
Nov 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) is introduced before the game against the Boston Celtics at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being an established player, the New York Knicks shouldn’t look to acquire Timberwolves’ point guard Ricky Rubio.

With the NBA Draft just a month away, there are a plethora of rumors, in regards to what transactions the New York Knicks could make, as well as who they will select with their pick. However, recently, a few of their targets were leaked.

According to Ian Begley, the Knicks have preliminary interest in two-way forwards P.J. Tucker and Dante Cunningham, as well as Spurs’ swingman Jonathan Simmons. Another name mentioned as a target though, was Minnesota Timberwolves point guard, Ricky Rubio. Such a transaction would require the Knicks to make a trade for Spaniard. 

However, despite being a proven product, the Knicks should avoid making a move for Rubio.

When it to comes to his skill set, Rubio is a crafty player. Despite not being much of a scoring threat, Rubio is able to find his teammates at ease. Averaging 8.5 assists per game for his career, Rubio has served as a facilitator for the Timberwolves throughout the duration of his six years with them. In addition to his ability to find the open man though, Rubio also competes on the defensive end.

Averaging 2.1 steals per game for his career, Rubio serves as a gnat on the defensive end and an established on-ball defender. Rubio’s ability to facilitate and show up on the defensive end are valuable traits, as is his contract.

Next year, Rubio will be entering the third year of a four-year, $55 million dollar deal. Based on the fact that the salary cap will rise yet again this summer, his deal is a bargain for both the Timberwolves and whoever inquires on a deal for him. Given his team friendly contract, Rubio could provide the Knicks with some cap flexibility. However, despite his skill set and bargain contract, Rubio doesn’t make sense for the Knicks.

While he is an established presence at the point guard position and could very well come in and start, Rubio doesn’t make a lot of sense for the rebuilding Knicks. A big part of that is due to the future of Carmelo Anthony and how much his potential departure affects the Knicks.

If and when Anthony is dealt, the Knicks will begin to build around Kristaps Porzingis – a move which will signal a rebuild. The moment Anthony departs is the precise time when the Knicks should begin to prioritize making smaller moves, as opposed to win-now ones.

While Rubio would address a clear need, acquiring Rubio would a win-now move or one to save a season. That was a big reason for the Knicks’ interest in him at the trade deadline.

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Despite failing to reach a deal, the Knicks and Timberwolves were in deep discussions on a deal to swap Rubio for Derrick Rose. Such a swap, would’ve reunited Rose with his former head coach Tom Thibodeau and have given the Knicks a new face at point guard to try and save their season. The difference this time around though, is that the Knicks aren’t trying to save anything. In fact, they’re attempting to practically start from scratch. Acquiring Rubio wouldn’t be helping that process.

The Knicks would be better suited snatching NC State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. (if he falls to them), or even making a deal for Lakers’ point guard D’Angelo Russell (who’s become expendable with the likely selecting of UCLA guard Lonzo Ball) to play point guard. Either one would give the Knicks a young, promising product to work with going forward. While he’s a well-rounded player, Rubio makes little sense for a team looking to essentially hit the rest button. Another key thing to keep in mind is what Rubio would cost?

While the Timberwolves continue to have interest in Rose, making a sign and trade involving him and Rubio a possibility, it’s very well possible that such a swap could fall through. If and when that occurs the Knicks would then have to scramble to assemble a package – a task which could prove to be a challenging one.

While they do have some nice trade assets in shooting guard Courtney Lee and big man Kyle O’Quinn, the Timberwolves are in no dire need to upgrade at those select positions. With second-year man Kris Dunn and the high-flying Zach LaVine,  the Timberwolves aren’t in need of a new backcourt piece; the same goes for acquiring a center. With budding superstar Karl Anthony-Towns and Gorgui Dieng, the Timberwolves don’t have a burning desire to add another big.

Given the lack of fit with the players the Knicks can offer, such a deal with the Timberwolves would be highly complex to put together – only adding to the reasons why the Knicks should avoid making such a move.

Is Rubio a crafty player who can run an offense? Yes, but despite his skill set, acquiring him makes little sense for the Knicks, given the current state of their team, as well as what it would cost to trade for him.

 

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