Report: ‘Wolves, Rubio “A Good Distance Apart” On Contract Extension

It was reported this summer that contract extension negotiations between Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves “wouldn’t be easy.” A couple months later and with the October 31 deadline for extensions looming larger every day, that assumption has proven the case and then some.

According to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Rubio’s camp and the team remain “a good distance apart” in contract talks. That’s not surprising considering the long-held notion that Rubio is seeking a max-level deal, something Zgoda also confirms in his story.

Perhaps more telling is that Timberwolves GM Milt Newton recently even stopped short of calling ongoing discussions with Rubio and agent Dan Fegan “negotiations,” and made it clear Minnesota wouldn’t overpay just to keep the Spanish star from restricted free agency next summer.

Newton: “Well, right now the negotiations are…I won’t even say they’re negotiations. We have Ricky for two more years, and we’re in constant contact with his agent. There are some things we agree on and some things we don’t agree on. But at the end of the day we plan on him being here at training camp, and if we can get something worked out, fine. If not, like I said – he’s under under contract.

“At the right number [we’d sign him to a four-year deal]. At the right number. Until that right number comes up, I guess we’ll continue to talk.”

Asked if the financial details of Rubio’s extension were what the sides disagreed upon, Newton answered, “Yes, yes, yes.”

Newton, Flip Saunders, and company are right not to rush things with Rubio. He’s recently said that he wants to play in Minnesota for the long-haul, and the team’s offseason roster shuffle means the ‘Wolves are better off ensuring they want him as a fixture of their future after watching him play the 2014-2015 season. That’s assuming Fegan remains firm in his stance that Rubio is a maximum player or something close to it; if Minny can shake him down to a more reasonable number, it should certainly consider inking Rubio to an extension.

The talks between the sides would be easier if Rubio had shown strides for Spain at the FIBA World Cup. Instead, he remained the effective but flawed anomaly he’s been for the better part of his career. The 23 year-old led the tournament by swiping 3.6 steals per game and ranked third in assists per game with 5.1, but shot just 38.5 percent from the field and misfired on all five of his three-point attempts.

If Rubio can’t develop a somewhat reliable three-point shot and fails to improve as a finisher in the paint, he’s certainly not worth the salary he’s demanding. Though this hasn’t been confirmed, it stands to reason that Fegan is seeking a five-year deal for Rubio, too. If that’s the case, the Timberwolves should be even less inclined to acquiesce – only one player drafted by a team can sign a contract covering five seasons, and Minnesota would be wise to save that spot for number one draft pick Andrew Wiggins.

It appears very unlikely that the sides will reach an agreement before October 31. And though the summer sagas of Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe will likely make future restricted free agents further consider taking a one-year qualifying offer in lieu of signing a perceived unworthy deal with their incumbent teams, the ‘Wolves would still be best served playing the RFA game with Rubio come next July.

What do you think?

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