SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz have found a new veteran point guard.
The Jazz will send a 2018 lottery protected first round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Ricky Rubio.
At 26, Rubio is one of the more dynamic playmakers in the NBA. He has averaged 8.5 assists during his six-year career, all with the Timberwolves. Last season, Rubio averaged career highs 11.1 points and 9.1 assists per game.
Originally selected in the first round (fifth overall selection) of the 2009 NBA Draft by Minnesota, Rubio has appeared in 353 career games (333 starts) over six seasons with the Timberwolves, and owns career averages of 10.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 8.5 assists in 31.8 minutes. He leaves the Wolves as the franchise’s all-time leader in both assists (8.5) and steals per game (2.1) as well as point/assist double-doubles (83), while ranking behind only Kevin Garnett in total assists (2991) and steals (747).
Rubio’s downfall has been his shooting. He is a career 37.5 percent shooter from the field, and has made just 31.1 percent of his three-point shots.
Rubio is slated to make 14 million dollars next season. The Jazz were 16 million under the salary cap, and had to spend it by today or else they would lose that space.
This trade effectively ends the tenure of George Hill with the Jazz. Hill will become an unrestricted free agent tonight, and this trade signifies the Jazz are moving on. In his only season in Utah, Hill was very effective when healthy, averaging 16.9 points and 4.2 assists per game. But he played in just 49 regular season games, and missed the last three games of the playoffs with a toe injury.
It is unclear how this move will affect Gordon Hayward’s decision whether to re-sign with the Jazz. Hayward has indicated he wanted to play with Hill. Hayward is planning on taking free agent visits with Miami, Boston and Utah.
Over his first six NBA seasons, Rubio has ranked in the top five in the league in assists per game three times (five times in top 10), and in the top 10 in steals four times. He earned 2011-12 All-Rookie First Team honors while finishing second to Kyrie Irving in Rookie of the Year balloting.
Prior to joining the NBA, Rubio played six seasons (2005-11) professionally in the Spanish ACB League for Joventus (2005-09) and FC Barcelona (2009-11) after making his debut at the age of 14, the youngest player ever to compete in the ACB to that point.
A native of El Masnou, Spain, Rubio has represented his home country at both the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where at age 17 he became the youngest player ever to participate in a men’s gold medal game. He began his international career in 2005 on Spain’s U16 team, and in 2006 was named MVP the 2006 FIBA Europe U16 championships after leading Spain to the gold medal.
The first round pick the Jazz are trading was acquired from Oklahoma City in the Enes Kanter trade.