I am still basking in the after glow of the good fortune our Memphis Grizzlies received during the 2009 NBA draft lottery. It has perhaps been the best time for the Memphis Grizzlies since the first playoff game in the Pyramid. However, since the Grizzlies missed out on the obvious fit in Blake Griffin (or have they), the debate has centered around what to do with the 2nd pick in the 2009 NBA draft. The consensus second best player in the draft at this point is Ricky Rubio from Spain. Rubio is a 6’4 dynamic point guard that has drawn comparisons to two time NBA MVP Steve Nash. The Memphis fan base has caught Rubio fever. Even the Commercial Appeal has shown unusual praise for the mysterious Rubio. So what is the problem with just picking the consensus 2nd best player with the second pick in the 2009 NBA draft? Unfortunately, as a Memphis Grizzlies fan, it is never that easy.
Almost immediately after the 2009 NBA draft lottery results were announced, the reports started to creep in about Rubio’s willingness to start off his career playing home games at The FedExForum. The first report came from Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony the day after the lottery, who has very good connections among NBA agents and I suspect that is the source of a lot of his information:
Rubio doesnt want to go to Memphis, and he especially does not want to pay money out of his own pocket with that huge buyout for the honor of doing so. Fegan [Rubios agent] wants him in L.A., and if he cant have him there, he wants him in Sacramento. Definitely not Oklahoma City.
Givony’s most recent report softens a little:
The bottom line here is that Ricky has a large buyout5.75 million Euros, both for this year and the year after. Depending on the team that selects him, hes going to make a decision on whether he comes over or not. If hes not satisfied, there is a very real possibility that he doesnt come. His buyout is going to cost him a lot of money, and if it doesnt make sense for him, he wont do it. He is going to have to pay for the privilege of playing in the NBA
Even with the slight change in tone, Draft Express decided to drop Rubio to #4 in the draft with the Memphis Grizzlies selecting the 7’3 center from UConn, Hasheem Thabeet. This move was most likely due to the report by ESPNs draft expert Chad Ford. According to Ford:
Several sources told me that owner Michael Heisley loves Thabeet. He wants the team to be tougher defensively and thinks Thabeet would give it the shot-blocking and size it desperately needs.
This report has since been summarily shot down by the Commercial Appeal’s Ron Tillery on his morning radio show according to The Memphis Flyer’s Chris Herrington.
So where exactly does that leave the Memphis Grizzlies on the heels of GM Chris Wallace and Coach Lionel Hollins’ scouting trip to watch Rubio live in the ACB playoffs? Truthfully, I am not sure. I think Heisley and the Grizzlies preference is to move up in the draft so they can take home the top prize of Blake Griffin, much like they did last season with OJ Mayo. However, if the Los Angeles Clippers are unwilling to trade the #1 pick or if their demands are to high, I think the Grizzlies will go with plan B and select Ricky Rubio with the #2 pick.
The question then becomes…will the the Memphis Grizzlies keep Ricky Rubio and give him the keys to the 3YP or will they cash in this asset to replenish a depleted roster. In part 2, I will present some trade options that can do just that. Hopefully, the rumor mill will slow down it’s churn until then.
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