by Marcel Mutoni

Tired of playing against some of Europe’s fiercest men, according to SI’s Chris Mannix, Ricky Rubio would like to enter the 2009 NBA draft.

Of course, Mannix is the same guy who erroneously reported that Marko Jaric was facing sexual assault charges last week, so take this latest report for what it’s worth:

Spain’s Ricky Rubio, a dazzling point guard with Pete Maravich-like skills and the facial features to match, is considered a lock to be selected in the top 10 of the NBA draft. Several league executives believe the 6-foot-3 Olympian will be a top five pick. The question is, when?

It could be this June. Rubio has made it clear that he would like to enter the 2009 draft, according to sources close to the situation. The 18-year-old Rubio is draft-eligible because he will turn 19 before the end of 2009.

But it’s not that easy. Rubio has a complicated, multimillion-dollar contract buyout with his Spanish team, DKV Joventut Barcelona. NBA teams are allowed to contribute a maximum of $500,000 to buy out the contract of a foreign player. That means if Rubio seeks to leave Joventut, he could be forced to use most of the money from his first NBA contract to pay for the buyout.

Therein lies the rub: How much money is Ricky prepared to lose in order to jump to the NBA?

We’ll be finding out soon enough.