Could Ricky Rubio Return to Minnesota Timberwolves?

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time, Ricky Rubio was drafted to be the savior of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Times are much different now in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, than they were each time Rubio was in MN previously.

With an established face of the franchise, in Anthony Edwards, and complemental All-Stars in Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, the Timberwolves have just about everything they need to compete for an NBA Championship. Except, they could really use another veteran point guard…

Ricky Rubio stepped away from the game of basketball in August of 2023, to focus on his mental health. That led to a contract buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then in January of 2024, he announced his retirement from the NBA.

Roughly one month later, Ricky inked a contract with FC Barcelona, in his native Spain. He played 15 games with Barca before their season ended and his contract expired. Now, Rubio is a free agent who appears to be keeping his options open, while he recalibrates his future.

Ricky Rubio taking summer to focus on mental health, weigh future basketball options

The 12 year NBA veteran hasn’t given Barcelona any sort of commitment for next season and will not compete with the Spanish National Team at the Olympics. Rubio recently told reporters that he is taking this summer to decide if professional basketball is still in his future.

“Last Monday they started training, I think I didn’t have enough time to be 100% ready because my sporting career depended on this summer, in terms of keep playing or not.”

“I think it would have been selfish, for me, playing for the national team without being 100% ready for them. I also needed to think about myself at that moment.”

Ricky Rubio on why he isn’t playing with the Spain National Team for Olympics (June 14, 2024)

Now 33 years old, Ricky Rubio is far from being ‘too old’ to play in the league. In fact, he’s only one year older than his former teammate, Rudy Gobert, and three years younger than another former Utah teammate, Joe Ingles, who just signed with the Wolves.

A Ricky Rubio return to Minnesota Timberwolves makes too much sense

And if he is going to return to basketball, and wants to play at the highest level again, there’s only one situation that seems downright perfect for Ricky Rubio. Almost too perfect to believe he would land anywhere else. The Minnesota Timberwolves.

After being aggressive during the NBA Draft, where the Wolves hope they found their PG of the future, Tim Connelly, hasn’t had much success finding veteran help in the backcourt. Instead, they’ve seen the opposite. Monte Morris signed with the Phoenix Suns and Connelly executed a sign-and-trade that shipped Kyle Anderson to Golden State.

Aside from signing Joe Ingles on a veteran minimum deal, and somehow bringing back a fan favorite in Luka Garza on a two-year contract, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been mostly quiet. And if there is one need on the roster that stands out above the rest, it’s point guard. MN has lost Morris, Anderson and is still likely to move on from Jordan McLaughlin. All three brought the ball up for the Wolves last season.

Related: 10 Greatest Minnesota Timberwolves Players Of All-Time; Does Ricky Rubio Make the Cut?

Why can’t they find PG depth? Because point guards are expensive and all they can offer is a veteran minimum contract. But you know who would be a veteran minimum PG, if he decided to return to the NBA? You guessed it.

Ricky Rubio’s returning to the Minnesota Timberwolves makes too much sense not to explore. There haven’t been a lot of rumors linking the Wolves to free agent point guards, since Morris signed in Phoenix.

Rubio may not be able to give an answer yet, but Tim Connelly needs to call and check in on him; at least kick the tires and see if he might be interested, or if it is something that he has at all thought about. Because the fit is too perfect.

Did you know there are six current Timberwolves who have been teammates with Rubio?

  • Rudy Gobert – Played with Rubio for two seasons in Utah
  • Joe Ingles – Played with Rubio for two seasons in Utah
  • Anthony Edwards – Played with Rubio in 2020-21
  • Jaden McDaniels – Played with Rubio in 2020-21
  • Naz Reid – Played with Rubio in 2020-21
  • Karl-Anthony Towns – Played with Rubio for three seasons
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

That’s a lot of chemistry and experience between Rubio and several Timberwolves players, in an organization that he knows and feels comfortable with. Edwards and Towns have previously spoken glowingly about their special bond with the talented Spaniard.

Related: John Calipari Guards Drafted in Top 25 Hit Every Time, So Go Ahead and Doubt Rob Dillingham

Towns thanked Rubio for “making him a better man.” Edwards credited Rubio with “making the game easier,” specifically relating to defensive coverages he’d face. Meanwhile, Gobert said he “learned a lot from” Rubio, who “always made people around him better.” Wouldn’t these traits be a worthy addition to any sports team?

Imagine what Ricky Rubio and Mike Conley can teach Rob Dillingham?

It’s fair to say that Rubio never lived up to his superstar potential in Minnesota or throughout the rest of his NBA career, but he’s no longer looked upon in that role. If he were to return, he’d be coming to the Timberwolves as a veteran third point guard who brings invaluable experience off the bench.

He, along with Conley, would be critical in helping Rob Dillingham reach his full potential. As Tim Connelly noted, Dillingham is a “bucket,” but there’s plenty of room for growth as a floor general, which is Rubio’s specialty.

Rubio’s passion for the game could be re-ignited during Olympic play. While he won’t participate, he’ll witness several others, including former teammates, competing at the highest stage. If there is anything that will remind him of the love he has for basketball, it’s watching his best friends compete against each other on the world’s biggest stage, right?

That’s where the Timberwolves come in. Rubio isn’t going to just return to basketball without a purpose. But he’s never won an NBA Championship, and as long as he’s mentally ready, it’s hard to say he doesn’t have plenty of gas left in the tank.

Bring Ricky back?

But again, he’s not going to come out of retirement just to join the Detroit Pistons or another non-contender. No, Rubio is a true competitor who likely would want to join a championship effort, and there’s no place like his second home, with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who could provide comfort than any other team in the world, aside from maybe playing in Spain.

Related: Timberwolves Have Reported Interest in Trading for Blossoming Utah Jazz All-Star Forward

The Timberwolves likely wouldn’t call on Rubio to play heavy minutes, heck, he might not even crack Chris Finch’s immediate rotation as they prioritize getting minutes for Dillingham. But just as Jordan McLaughlin found a way to get on the floor, you can bet Rubio would find a way too, especially if the big personalities of Anthony Edwards and Dillingham can re-create that passion to play basketball again.

If Ricky Rubio wants to play, there’s no better fit than with the Minnesota Timberwolves. You heard it here first.

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