The NBA's trade deadline is Thursday and now that the festivities of All-Star weekend have come to a conclusion, trade rumors have started to spread like wildfire.
The main one that should be of interest to Minnesota Timberwolves' fans is one reported by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, in which he says that Ricky Rubio is "readily available and the feeling is that the Spanish guard could be moved" before Thursday. In the paragraph prior to the quote, Isola speculates that Zach LaVine, fresh off of his Rising Stars challenge MVP and historic showing in the dunk contest, may win the starting point guard spot.
The local media (specifically KSTP's Darren Wolfson and the Associated Press's Jon Krawczynski) were quick to shut down any notion that a Rubio deal was imminent.
They are not shopping him. But they won't immediately hang up the phone if someone calls to ask. https://t.co/se2g3zIlaw— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) February 15, 2016
It is not surprising to see Rubio's name come up in trade rumors as he is a quality starter playing at the league's most valuable position, under a favorable long-term contract. His agent, Dan Fegan, has also always been enamored with seeing his client play in a major market. However, what good would come from trading Rubio at this time? The only way trading him would make sense is if the team either upgrades at the point guard position (a move that is unlikely due to the importance and value of high quality point guards across the league) or is provided an unexpected offer they simply can't refuse, one that will pay serious dividends down the road as the roster matures.
If anything, the speculation does provide an opportunity to explore the question of whether or not Rubio should be considered a cornerstone for the team going forward and, thus, be considered untradable? I think the answer to that question is no; anybody on the team not named Andrew Wiggins or Karl-Anthony Towns should be considered movable for the right price.
The Wolves find themselves in a position in which the roster is an amalgamation of young, high-ceiling talent with more talent of that variety coming in the upcoming draft. At some point, the team (specifically the general manager and president of basketball operations) will have to decide if it is best to hold on to that talent and form the team around it or to move a couple assets for more established veterans.
And therein lines the problem with the Wolves: is that Milt Newton's job or is that the job of someone else? It appears as if Newton is the one tasked with answering calls and being involved in trade discussions (he is the general manager, after all), but what is unclear is if he has the power to pull the trigger on a move, specifically on one as large as moving a fan favorite in Rubio.
So, will Ricky Rubio be traded before the clock strikes 3 p.m. eastern time on Thursday? I would be extraordinarily shocked to see that, as would most followers of the team. It makes almost no sense at this point in time. Rubio is on a good contract, by all accounts he likes playing in Minnesota, and he's a high quality starting point guard that makes the team legitimate when he's on the floor. Besides, who knows if Milt Newton even possesses the authority to make such a big move without any long-term commitment from the franchise.
But that doesn't make Rubio untouchable. I wouldn't be shocked to see him moved should Minnesota be blown away by an offer near the draft or at some point in the offseason, one that clearly makes them better. However, as it has been stated before by people smarter than me, it is important to first decide if Newton is the right guy going forward before any major transactions are made. And I don't see that decision being made until after the trade deadline has long passed.