The Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to figure out the right approach to moving on from Kevin Love following the Cleveland Cavaliers trade. The team will be armed with this season's No. 1 draft pick in Andrew Wiggins and possibly top young forward Thaddeus Young. Those are certainly two solid players to build off of, but questions are rising as to whether or not Ricky Rubio will be joining them as well. Acquired to be the franchise point guard, contract demands could end that effort.
According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Timberwolves would ideally like to extend Rubio's contract this year before he has a chance to become a restricted free agent. The issue is that Rubio intends on being a max player and Minnesota does not agree. The point guard wants a contract to the tune of $84 million. The Timberwolves want to follow the lead of the Golden State Warriors and give him a deal like Stephen Curry's which was four years and $48 million. Getting this contract wrapped up will be crucial for Minnesota.
Rubio has leverage in this situation since he is aware the Timberwolves cannot afford to let him go. After losing Love, the point guard becomes the face of the franchise and he knows it. The Timberwolves have put an Oct. 31 deadline on negotiations in hopes that will speed things along for an extension.
The other issues becomes available cap space. Most NBA sources (per ESPN/Yahoo! Sports) are reporting that part of the Love trade includes the Timberwolves sending Anthony Bennett to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Young. Once acquired, Minnesota then has to worry about retaining Young. The forward has two years remaining on his contract, the second being a player option. Kyler reports the Minnesota wants to re-sign Young for the long-term and he has already announced his desire for a large pay raise as well. Will the Timberwolves be willing to shell out all the money to keep both stars happy?
If a deal for Rubio cannot get done, the point guard will likely hit the market during the mid-season trading period. The Timberwolves cannot afford to lose him for nothing and they will at least test the market to see what he is worth. According to team president/head coach Flip Saunders (per ESPN.com), the Timberwolves have received numerous calls regarding the availability of Rubio and the team will not hesitate to act on the interest if they have to.