The Minnesota Timberwolves are pretty clearly nearing a crossroads in terms of the future of their organization. After having playoff-aspirations entering the 2013-14 NBA season, the Wolves are almost surely going to fall short of their goal and will once again be sitting at home in May and June.
However, it’s not just missing the postseason once again that is weighing heavy on the Timberwolves. What’s brought up in almost every conversation or discussion regarding this team is the future of All-Star power forward Kevin Love with this team. The predominant assumption is that he will opt-out and leave Minnesota in the summer of 2015 as an unrestricted free-agent. Either that scenario will play out or the Wolves will trade him in anticipation of that happening.
Another wrinkle in all of this, though, is that Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio is also nearing the end of his rookie deal, meaning that he will more than likely be looking for an extension this summer after playing his third season with Minnesota. According to Zach Lowe of Grantland, Rubio could be looking for a hefty payday with that extension.
Lowe says that there are rumblings that Rubio’s agent, Dan Fegan, plans to seek an “eight-figure extension” for his client this summer. The issue that arises with that, though, is that Rubio hasn’t exactly earned that type of money with what he’s been able to do on the court.
On the positive side, we know that Rubio is a wizard in terms of passing and creating for his teammates. He’s among the league-leaders in assists this season, averaging 8.5 per game, and has also emerged as a solid defensive point guard with impressive steals numbers, averaging 2.5 per game.
However, the issue with Rubio is most definitely his scoring capabilities. Through three seasons, Rubio has failed to show much improvement in his efficiency or proficiency as a scorer. In fact, his 9.1 points per game this season are the lowest of his young career, though his 37.8 percent shooting from the field and unpleasantly a career-high mark. Whether it’s with his jumper or finishing at the rim, Rubio simply hasn’t been able to get the job done when it comes to putting the rock through the cylinder.
The even bigger predicament for Minnesota is the fact that paying Rubio would largely be banking on potential. After all, the point guard is just 23 years old and obviously has the capabilities of being an effective player in this league. The issue is whether or not they believe that he’ll ever develop into a player that can score at a level that he hasn’t shown he can thus far.
The Timberwolves have major decisions to make looking forward. While whether or not they can realistically keep Love in Minnesota should certainly be at the forefront of their thoughts, Rubio may be the more pressing issue given that he become eligible for that extension this summer. The question that they have to answer, though, is if the potential of the point guard is worth an eight-figure extension or not.