Score one for the good guys this year.
You could hear the collective groan from Jason’s Deli when the pick was announced. The man Chris Vernon said would cause him to burn himself on the front of the FedEx Forum was drafted and not the Spanish Chocolate Wunderkid.Instead the Grizzlies took The Tanzanian Trauma. The one dimensional player who seems to soft to be a legitimate NBA center despite the obvious skill.
Arguements can be made that Thabeet deserved to be the 2nd pick in the draft. After all he’s a two time Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He actually wants to be a role model (hear that Charles Barkley) and is planning on returning to UConn to get his degree in the future. After all, that is why he went to college in the first place.
But that isn’t the issue. The issue has always been Rubio. 3 Shades of Blue thought he was the pick regardless of his antipathy toward the city and the team. We thought then (and still do) that you don’t pass on talent for need and Thabeet isn’t really a need anyway. The worst case scenario would be that the team would simply trade Rubio, get a needed veteran and another lottery pick.
We were wrong. Rubio wasn’t tradable for anything of value because everyone assumed that if Memphis took Rubio he would force them to trade him at a discount but more likely the Grizzlies would simply pass on the Spaniard. Lionel Hollins said thatsome of the offers for the second pick were ‘laughable.’
And now things have gotten worse for the team draftig Rubio. He didn’t show up at the Minnesota press conference like their other picks did. Rumors have been flying that Rubio may return to Spain or even sign with another European team. His father supposedly started the rumors! What happened to the fresh faced boy who proclaimed the NBA was his dream and he would play for free just for the opportunity? Well apparently that doesn’t mean playing two seasons for free.
Rubio has a $6.6 million buyout (and yes that is Dollars not Euros). By being drafted 5th his salary slot is $3.269 million the first season with a slight raise in the second. So basically we are talking about two full seasons before he pockets anything from his NBA contract. If he had been drafted 2nd then he would havereceived $4.458 million the first year. Throw in the $500,000 buyout provision the team is allowed to pay for a European to buy out his contract and he would probably be completely debt free a year from now with endorsements and all.
Or maybe there is something else bothering Rubio. His agent Don Feagan said that Rubio was unsure about Memphis because Mike Conley was already in place there. Did the TWolves drafting Johnny Flinn scare off Rubio? Maybe Rubio wanted to go to Sacramento because he only had to compete with Beano Udrih. Appearantly white Europeans don’t scare Rubio but speedy African-American PG’s scare the heck out of him.
So I don’t know yet if the 7-3 Tanzanian with the great shot-blocking impact but questionable offense and strength may not end up being the right player to take at #2. Only time will tell about that but it is becoming clearer every day that not taking the Spaniard was the correct move.