Point guards continued to dominate NBA headlines heading into the start of free agency Saturday, with Minnesota trading Ricky Rubio to Utah for a 2018 first-round pick (originally belonging to Oklahoma City).
As a result, George Hill – who had one mostly successful but not entirely healthy season with the Jazz – is likely on the move again. The deal with the Timberwolves, as reported Friday by the Salt Lake Tribune, will swap Rubio’s $14 million salary for 2017-18 in for what’s assumed will be a bigger price tag for Hill.
This deal comes two days after Clippers point guard Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets.
“We’d like to thank Ricky for his time in Minnesota over the course of the last six-plus years,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. “Ricky has been a consummate professional over my time in Minnesota and has done tremendous things in the community. We appreciate all he’s done for the organization and wish him the best of luck in Utah.”
Eight days earlier, Thibodeau had seemed to settle the Rubio/Kris Dunn debates in the Twin Cities by sending Dunn, the No. 5 pick in the 2016 Draft, to the Bulls in a trade for Jimmy Butler. But Rubio – a creative pass-first playmaker in search of a reliable jump shot – wasn’t Thibodeau’s preferred type of point guard after the Butler deal than he was before it.
The point guards who have thrived under Thibodeau have been scorers and rim attackers such as Derrick Rose, who won the NBA’s MVP award in their first season together in 2011, or understudies with a similar scoring inclination (Nate Robinson, D.J. Augustin, Aaron Brooks).
With Butler added to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota needs a point guard who can space the floor with the threat of 3-point shooting. Rubio has made just 31.5 percent from the arc in his six NBA seasons.
Shedding Rubio’s salary for a draft pick next June also opens cap space for the Wolves estimated at about $32 million heading into free agency.