While Oklahoma City would obviously be extremely interested in the prospect of acquiring the top pick and drafting local product Blake Griffin, there is one team standing in their way – the Memphis Grizzlies, who own the #2 pick. From what people around the league are saying, Rubio’s camp may already be sending out feelers indicating that he’s not interested in the least bit in playing in Memphis.
“Rubio doesn’t 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 [Rubio’s agent] wants him in L.A., and if he can’t have him there, he wants him in Sacramento. Definitely not Oklahoma City. “
Unlike Griffin or Hasheem Thabeet, who don’t really have any choice where they will play next season if a team decides to play hardball, Rubio has a reasonably attractive alternative option at his disposal—returning to Spain.
“He’ll pull out if he doesn’t like what he’s hearing,” the NBA source tells us. “Or he can stay in and force the Grizzlies to call his bluff—would they really take him knowing that he may never come over? That’s one way to get him to fall to three.”
Fegan is already highly experienced in these matters, having unsuccessfully attempted to navigate fellow client Yi Jianlian towards the team of his choice in the 2007 draft, only to see Milwaukee foil his plans and pick him anyway. This time, though, he has a lot more leverage, as Rubio would likely have no problem staying in Badalona for another year or two or more if push came to shove. His buyout after all, is yet to be resolved, which in this case may actually be an advantage.
The Grizzlies are clearly aware of the politics surrounding their pick, but do not appear to be in any rush to make any decisions. “We’ll talk about all those things when they come up,” their General Manager Chris Wallace told us. “Right now we’re still in evaluation mode. We haven’t had any conversations with him [Rubio] or anyone else in his camp.”
Wallace shared that he will be headed out to Spain this weekend to watch Rubio compete in game three of the ACB playoffs, where Joventut will try to advance to the semifinals with a road win over Real Madrid. “I sent someone out there last week to watch him in the playoffs just in case we were able to move up,” Wallace told us. “He’s hardly a sleeper and he hasn’t been very difficult to track. We feel very comfortable with what we know about him right now.”
When asked whether Mike Conley’s status as Memphis’ tentative starter will deter the Grizzlies from selecting another point guard, Wallace indicated that that won’t be a factor. “We’re not in a position to be drafting for need. We’re going to go after the biggest talent available, whether that’s a big man or a point guard or whatever.”
What might make the most sense on paper would be for the Clippers and Grizzlies to work out a trade in which Memphis could take Griffin and Los Angeles would get Rubio. For that to happen, Memphis would have to part with one of their core assets, likely Rudy Gay. Obviously we’ll have to stay tuned, because as John Hollinger correctly indicated in his latest column last night’s lottery left more questions than answers for the teams drafting in the top 5.
Edited by LALakersFan4Life, May 20, 2009 - 10:58 PM.