Dubai: Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio could be on the move this summer if the NBA rumour cycle is to be believed. The Spanish star has been linked with trades to the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, among other teams.
But Rubio, in Dubai to add star power to the BasicBall Academy summer camps at the Dubai World Trade Centre, denied he was about to move to the Big Apple or anywhere else.
He told Gulf News he believes he will stay with his first and so far only NBA team.
“I have confidence that the team wants me but you know in this league anybody can get traded,” said the flashy playmaker. “You don’t listen to the rumours. You just live day-by-day and that’s it.”
When asked if he wanted to stay with the long-suffering Timberwolves, Rubio gave a firm: “Yes.”
And why wouldn’t he? It is an exciting time to be a Minnesota Timberwolf — even after a 16-win season in which they failed to make the NBA play-offs for the 11th straight time, the longest streak in the league.
The reasons for optimism include a pair of youngsters for whom the NBA sky is the limit at this stage of their fledgling careers.
Reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, 20, is coming off a superb debut campaign, in which he showed in flashes why he was once considered North America’s best high-school prospect since LeBron James. The 6ft 8in Canadian displayed the skill and athleticism to suggest he could soon become one of the league’s best wing defenders, as well as one of its most versatile scorers.
Next season, Wiggins will be joined by skilled seven-footer Karl-Anthony Towns, the first pick in July’s NBA Draft and a potential future star.
And Rubio, himself still only 24, said he can’t wait to take the court with the emerging duo.
“They have a lot of talent,” said the 6ft 4in guard. “I have a little bit more experience than them that I can share. I really can teach them what I learned. They have a great future and I can help them achieve their goals.
“I like to have athletic players next to me, the way I play. It suits my game.
“[Wiggins] can be as good as he wants. He has a lot of talent. What surprised me about last season is the quickness of how he adapted to the league. He was fearless about the big stage, to play against LeBron James and the bigger names. There are a lot of ways he can score. It is hard to stop him. If you stop one of the ways he scores, he can score in other ways.
“I have seen [Towns] working out this summer in Minnesota. I can tell he is a great player and not just like a big centre, he can really shoot the ball, he can play in the pick-and-pop and he is really going to surprise some people.
“We have a lot of young talent with a big future but we have got to start doing it because it has been a building process for the last couple of years. We have to start putting it on paper and start winning games.”
Ankle injuries cost Rubio the majority of the previous campaign. But, after months of rehabilitation, the Olympic silver-medallist says he is determined to lead his team into the play-offs for the first time in his career.
“We can be as good as we want to work for,” he said. “Training camp will be the key for us because we have to adapt to this league really quickly with this young talent. Luckily, we have signed a lot of veterans like Kevin Garnett, Andre Miller, Tayshaun Prince, who can really help this team.
“My goal is to bring this team to the play-offs. It has been my dream for four years. In my first year, I almost did it, but then I got hurt and everybody got hurt too so we couldn’t do it.
“It’s too early to talk because we haven’t been through training camp yet. The Western Conference is really tough, but we want to dream big.”