Ricky Rubio is one of those players who’s constantly in trade rumors. This offseason, Minnesota finally made it a reality by sending him to the Utah Jazz.
On June 30, Minnesota sent Ricky Rubio to Utah for a first-round pick in 2018. It was a steal. The 26-year-old had spent six seasons with the Timberwolves and cemented himself as one of the NBA’s best passers while also displaying the same qualities as the other elite defensive point guards. Despite the change of scenery, Rubio is happier than ever.
“To get traded, it’s not fun, but I was really excited to go to an organization that really believed in me,” said the Spaniard to The Deseret News’ Ryan McDonald. “It’s a great basketball organization with a good tradition. It was a little weird. I was six years in Minnesota. My name was in the papers with rumors and all that stuff for the last couple years but never traded. This summer, I guess it was time.
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“I have no regrets. I had a great time in Minnesota, but I think it was time for the both of us to move on. I think it was that time of our relationship that it didn’t work out the way we wanted, and we move on.”
Rubio’s new job is filling the void left by George Hill, who’s now with the Sacramento Kings. Additionally, he’ll have to help the team compete without Gordon Hayward:
“Of course my defense is a strength of mine. I’ve been working on my body this summer to be stronger and to be ready for this league that has so many good point guards and so many athletic point guards that every night you face top point guards and you have to be ready for that. I feel confident in my defense and I think I can really help the team to improve even more.
“We’re going to move forward. We’re going to try to be a better team than we were last year if that’s possible. Being in the Western Conference semifinals is not easy, but we’re going to move forward and just think about the players that we have.”
In 75 games with the Timberwolves last year, Rubio posted career-highs in points (11.1) and assists (9.1, fifth in the NBA). He added 1.7 steals, and also cracked 40 percent shooting (40.2) for the first time. The improved offense is significant because it’s been Rubio’s most glaring weakness. He’s not going to make a stratospheric leap with the Jazz, but they don’t mind because they’re a defensive-minded unit.
I don’t know how much Jazz fans are still hurting from Hayward’s departure, but the optimism from Rubio has to help — even if it’s just a bit.
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