Monday, April 20th, 2009 at 10:51 pm  |  82 responses

Rubio Declares For ’09 Draft

Spain’s finest could be this June’s top guard.

by Lang Whitaker

SLAM 128 cover kid Ricky Rubio, the 18-year-old point guard sensacion from Barcelona, Spain, is entering the 2009 NBA Draft. While Rubio could still remove his name from the Draft until as late as June 15, his agent, Dan Fegan, told ESPN, “Ricky ricky-rubio-slamwill be in the 2009 NBA Draft.”

So it sounds like he’s coming. When I was there in Barcelona in December, Ricky told me that he wasn’t thinking about the NBA. (Of course, his Dad was sitting a few feet away from us and listening intently.) Regardless of what he said, I knew he wanted to come. When I walked into his bedroom back in 2007, there were posters everywhere—LeBron, Kobe, Nash. He stays up late at night to watch NBA games on League Pass broadband. Ricky might play in Spain, but this kid grew up on the new school of NBA stars. Of course he wants the chance to play with and against them.

(When I asked him who he was most excited to have the chance to play against at the Olympics, Ricky answered immediately: “Kobe. Kobe was MVP of the best league of the world. I watched two, three years ago in the TV at night and thought, ‘Whoa, I can never can meet with this player.’ Two years later, I’m guarding him and make foul of him, so, you know, it was it unbelievable.”)

The problem is getting out of his contract with Joventut. He’s got at least one more year left on his deal, and from what I’ve been told repeatedly, the buyout is a high number, somewhere between $6 and $9 million. Joventut could try to keep him, but they could also get a crapload of money for him now before his contract runs out and they get nothing in return for him. Option B appears to be the wiser option.

(And yeah, an NBA team can only pitch in half a mil toward paying the buyout, so the rest of the money will have to come from Ricky. But I think he’s got a little scratch — he’s been a pro since he was 13, he’s got a Nike deal, he’s in McDonald’s commercials…he’s doing OK for himself.)

My main man Chad “C-Fizzle” Ford has Rubio ranked 2nd, behind Blake Griffin, on his 2009 prospect list.

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  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Great timing by us! Hope this moves some issues! Besides my business concerns, I think this is a great move…I think Ricky should indeed be the second pick and I look forward to seeing him play over here. I think fans will love him. I look forward to Brandon Jennings coming as well.

  • http://www.mykal1.blogspot.com MyKal

    Why were you in his bedroom?

  • http://www.mykal1.blogspot.com MyKal

    Secret SLAM business, ehh?

  • Marcel Mutoni

    definitely should’ve added a (pause) after the bedroom line.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    No fishsticks?

  • thesubwayconnection

    Hahaha. Good move. I think he’ll do well, and he and Brandon Jennings seem to be stuck together. I think that’s a good thing.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @MyKal: Get your mind out of the gutter.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Personally, I think Jennings is going to top Rubio, career wise.
    But good for Ricky, good luck to him.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I hope Ricky is the real deal, but Chad Ford endorsements scare me.

  • Coach Master

    Lot’s of hype for this kid. Hope he makes it big.

  • Superman Osman

    Dude, the buyout still is too damn costly for a years worth. But looking forward to Ricky’s debut, along with broadway Jennings

  • POW gasoul

    it’s gonna suck for me as a knick fan, but i think he ends up a king.there’s no doubt that griffin will be in a thunder uniform as well.
    harden,evans,derozan could be good picks though.

  • http://www.mykal1.blogspot.com MyKal

    No, I meant that you and ricky were going to play board games and enjoy the blossoming of a new friendship.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    “And with the first pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select Ri…”

  • chris

    so much for the weak draft

  • http://www.binarybasketball.com/forums/ sfy2004

    cant wait to see him over here, he seems to be very talented without a doubt. just hope he goes to a team that utilizes his skill set properly

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    Im sure Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Kevin Love and Al Jefferson could find use for him.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    It’s still pretty weak after the top 5 or so.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    “…I’m guarding him, and make foul of him…”
    Where poor english grammar happens.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    This up coming draft will be an absolute shocker. For the first time in NBA history, every pick after the top 21 will be forfeited.

  • Superman Osman

    It’s amazing!

  • Jer Boi


  • Jackie Moon

    Just looked up the Joventut stats, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu is doing some damage over there, and Ricky is a pick pocket

  • ab_40

    this whole draft class is weak a la 2000 weak with griffin being martin. or is this class gonna be more like 2002 with a no.2 pg who destroys himself while not living his contract and now is an espn college basketball analyst? I don’t expect much out of this draft class… I guess the era of the tall point guard and of the bulky point guard are over. with all these skinny quick kids coming in and every player over 6-6 without a handle this year… thank your colleges for working on players strenghts instead of players their weaknesses.

    I hope fiba europe get’s a three international(american) players limit througout well the european nations with pro basketball leauges.

    ah well I wish ricky rubio and my fellow dutchman Henk Norrel the best in this years draft

  • Shu

    I smell a conspiracy with the frozen envelope ala Ewing and bring this kid to New York under D’Antoni. Mayhem will isue. Dream on right? Teams with 4th-15th worst record still have a small chance at picks 2 and 3 rather than just the first one correct?

  • al

    Ricky is the most outstanding player in Europe at his age ever, maybe only comparable to Sabonis. Better than Pau, Petrovic, Kukoc, Stojakovic, Parker…
    Other thing is how they developed and how Ricky will, that we don’t know. But if I were to choose, I would choose Ricky anytime in any pick.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Great success!
    I just hope he and Jennings’ talent doesn’t get wasted in some crap team.
    Now would be a good time to pull on those strings, Stern…

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Oh, and DWill: prepare to be irrelevant. Yeah, I went there.

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  • http://myspace.com/2grownup2beshownup Jack

    I think Jennings is still gonna be better than Rubio. They’ll both be all-stars though.

  • serevei

    okc better get him

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Nice. The list goes Griffin, Rubio, Harden, Thabeet, Tyreke.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Crap, I forgot Jennings. Whatever. And, Anton: HELL NO.

  • rav

    please god dont let ricky end up on a no-hoper team (i.e. the clippers)

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  • http://www.myfreesport.com LexaB

    Saw him play lots of games here in Europe. People don’t even realize how mature and good, with an absolutely NBA-shaped king of play, that skinny guy is. Just watch next year. Hope Ricky wears a Knicks’ uniform come June.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    So when is the draft lottery so I can know where Griffin and Rubio will be going?

  • Danny W

    And the Sacramento Kings select Rockin’ Ricky Rubio. Petrie loves Euro kids, it’s a done deal.

  • http://www.grandvictoriacasinoillinois.com GrandVictoriaCasinoIllinois

    Thanks for the notice

  • chuck

    Ricky is overrated. Don’t know what all of this hype is all about, but the kid is not nearly good enough to go second in the NBA draft. He’s a prospect, at best. Can you see him guarding people like Brandon Roy or Chauncey Billips? Come on!! Please, Timberwolves, don’t pick him…

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    I’m still not completely sold, but I hven’t seen him play nearly as much as some others who seem really confident in Ricky as a NBA prospect. I’m glad he’s in this upcoming draft though.

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  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    It makes too much sense for him to come out now. Besides Griffin, there are no sure shots in this draft. I think people are giving Thabeet a raw deal though. I expect 10-10 and 3 blocks from him from the jump. He’s very agile for his size (way more than Deke ever was), he can learn the post.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    I don’t get people like Chuck. Can’t you say that about any rookie? Did anyone see Rose guarding Brandon Roy and Chauncy Billups effectively?

  • http://www.broy7.com/roy/index nate the great

    cant wait

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    I worry more about the mechanics of his jumper, and whether he’ll still look fast in the NBA. Is he as fast as the other “top” young PGs(Rondo, CP3, Rose, etc)? I just don’t want him to turn into the rich man’s Beno.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    Ciolkstar: Those are more valid worries. If his jumper never improves, the dude may be in trouble in the NBA. He’s not as fast as Rondo or Rose (although he’s not as slow as advertised) but he’s a much better ball handler and is great with sharp changes of speed or direction and has a really explosive first step.
    That being said, getting that spot-up NBA jumper will be the difference between 10-6 a game and 17-11 a game.

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    …not to mention Tony, Devin Harris and DWill, or even Brandon Jennings. Pure speed and explosiveness from a PG is developing into a new transcedant quality with the strict handcheck rules. having a super fast PG has basically become the easiest way to get layups in NBA games

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    I’m REALLY not worried about Rubio’s speed. Dude breaks down all sorts of zones that’re illegal in the US of A. You can’t do that without having skills on the drive.

  • Yassi

    I wish he wouldnt go to the NBA…its gonna mess him up.
    Anyhow as I am in Barcelona right now, I can state that the buzz of him declareing for the Draft was pretty big (“Breaking News” on TV). Ricky was at the Barcelona Open Tennis Tournament (Nadal etc.) yesterday and held an impromptu press conference (in a too bright orange jumper with untied black Nike shoes and enough denim on to cover Sabonis). For the spanish people close to him the deal isnt done yet and thats also what he said in spanish. It sounds like Ricky will be doing “negotiations” to find out where he could be landing and if he doesnt like what he is seeing he will stay in Spain.

    Anyhow on the sports show on TVBadalona with the “Breaking News”: “we have a surprise for you…” this one guy went on and he produced a SLAM Magazine nonetheless (guess which one ;-) ) and they held it into all the cameras for like 10 minutes. And it was all “SLAM this”, “SLAM that” and some more of “SLAM THIS”. This should boost your numbers in Spain considerably.

    Greetz from Germany (Spain at the moment)

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Yes, can’t wait to see him in the NBA. As good as Griffin is right now (he’s definitly better than ubio at this point). I would probably pick Rubio first because off potential. PG’s are the new centers, whereas Griffin will just be another athlethic scoring PF. After the Olympics I really believe this guy could be special, like really really HOF-type special. Anyway I might be wrong, but I’ll be waiting anxiously to see where those pinpong drop to.

  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com B. Long

    So I guess the buyout wasn’t as big of an issue as we thought. Viva La Pistola!

  • Alan

    From Spain, I really hope he’ll stay another year here. Plus he’ll earn more as won’t have to pay an stupid amount of money to get what he’ll get sooner or later. As the article says he’s doing OK for himself.

  • http://nbacheapseats.blogspot.com Chendaddy

    $6-9M is a huge price tag, and $500,000 is not much of a relocation bonus when measured up to it. I doubt Ricky would front that money himself when he’s only guaranteed $12M in his rookie contract if he’s the 2nd pick. That’s banking on a lot, namely that he will become successful and remain healthy enough to get that 4th year option and get a real contract extension. He better hope he can pull a Sebastian Telfair or Brandon Jennings, landing a giant sneaker endorsement that can help pay that buyout before he even steps foot on an NBA court. Still, if he pays his own way, I like the confidence, but that is a risky as hell move financially.

  • Alan

    BTW all of u who haven’t seen him playing: that’s exactly why you don’t like him. Defensively is… well… I’ve never seen such a young player putting so much effort on D. Ever.
    And to learn how to shot, well, this kid made 51 points in EuroChamps when 17. You can always improve your shot.

  • http://nbacheapseats.blogspot.com Chendaddy

    Clarification — the $12M is for the first three guaranteed years of a 2009 second pick rookie contract BEFORE taxes.

  • Yassi

    The buyout was mentioned in the papers (not on TV) but didnt seem to have priority #1. It wasnt mentioned by Ricky at all. He said that he will be looking at all the options and then decide on whats in his best interest BB-wise.
    But having talked to him in person you Slam-people MUST know that his main focus isnt the money and that he wouldnt risk what he loves and what makes him laugh and live (playing great fun basketball) for any money in the world. Meaning he wouldnt go to a team or into a situation that he doesnt like 100% for no materr how much money is thrown at him.

  • Alan

    I mean 51 in the Final. With a 3 pointer to send the game to OT incluided. He was 16, not 17.

  • Yassi

    @Chendaddy: Jesus, he already HAS a sneaker contract.
    Be sure of that: if he sees a situation he likes he will go the NBA no matter the price. If its only money, he´ll throw it in there. Believe it or not.
    He´s not playing to make as much money as possible. Again: belive it or not.

  • http://nbacheapseats.blogspot.com Chendaddy

    If he already has a sneaker contract that more than pays for the buyout, than fine. But, believe it or not, no matter how much he loves basketball, if he can have the same NBA opportunity while reducing the amount of risk in terms of money lost, his agent will heavily push that idea to him. Believe it or not, professional basketball is a business, and professional basketball player look out for their financial well-beings, too.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I’m pretty confident that Rubio will hire an agent/lawyer who will work any loopholes in the contract and that he will probably end up paying less than the $6-$9 mil buyout.

  • http://nbacheapseats.blogspot.com Chendaddy

    @TADOne Co-sign. No way he pays that entire bill out of his own pocket.

  • Babyface

    next jason kidd!

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  • niQ

    AND IT IS DONE! can’t wait to see where he ends up.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    AP claims the exact number for his buyout is 7,800,000 American dollars.
    To put it into perspective, since playing at the age of 14, Rubio has made ~350,000 american dollars.
    Hope that Nike contract he has pays reallllly well.

  • http://mindyourbusiness@getalife.com Allenp

    You think Rubio is a better ballhandler than Rose? I can’t get with that. Rose is a crazy with the rock.

  • Diesel

    Mills played even better against team USA in the olympics than Rubio did. Why is no one projecting him higher?

  • Young C

    Notice how Ricky doesn’t mention the buyout, and neither did his agent yet they did say he will enter the 09 draft? Don’t be surprised if he declares this year, but doesn’t come over until next year due to the buyout.

  • http://slamonline.com B. Long

    What did I tell you, Jukai? When are you going to stop arguing with me and just realize that 90% of the time I’m always right?

  • Marco

    Rubio has amazing skills, but more importantly he has the right attitude and the right dose of arrogance needed to lead an nba team from the beginning.He is the ral deal of this draft

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    No eboy comments? Really?

  • giogolo

    Chendaddy has the superior logic since 11:32 am. Co-sign, andanyone with a common b-ball-business sense.

  • Yassi

    I dont think he is coming over this year either but because of the wrong teams asking for his services. Lets say the Lakeshow, Dallas, Miami, Boston calls….he will be there. Washington? I dont think so.

  • giogolo

    i think Young C @ 3:08 PM nailed he conclusion.
    Just like ginobli did when he was drafted and Tiago splitter too (oth fro Spurs). He’s still in Europe playing,right?

    Either that or somebody wiill buy the hell out of Rubio this year.

  • http://ittakesanationofmillionstoholdthissac.blogspot.com ciolkstar

    Eff Tiago Splitter.
    I actually think Rubio landing in Washington could be pretty awesome, the Wiz really need a guy who does stuff besides score, although that would mean you’d have to play Arenas at the two.

  • Quail

    wut lottery teams need a pg…. wolves, knicks, kings would be the main ones. i hope the wolves get him.

  • JermareoDavidson

    Yea Rubio’s dope
    Unrelated, does anyone think Yakhouba Diawara looks like Norbit?

  • http://fjdklsf.com Jukai

    Allenp: Oh no, Rubio is better, he’s constantly dribbling behind the back, between the legs, crossing over everything. Rose doesn’t have to do that. He’s way too fast and has such an explosive first step, unlike Rubio who HAD to develop all those moves to make up for his lack of speed. Don’t think of it as a knock on Rose. Why would Rose need to cross over seamlessly in every direction when he can just outspeed 99% of his opponents?
    B Long: You weren’t right on anything. You said Nike would help buy out Rubio’s contract. They haven’t. At all. So, to my knowledge, I’m still 100% right. But I’m sure in the bizarro universe you live in, it’s already happened.

  • Yassi

    If he is going over there, Nike is going to help out for sure. Meaning he gets a bigger contract than he would otherwise and subsequently he will be able to buy his way out with that additional money, but he doesnt want to play for losing teams and/or teams where one guy is the star and the rest is crappy and not supposed to touch the ball. No way hes gonna do that. And IF he does it its gonna kill him. Its gonna be bad enough for him already in the NBA because he is such a team oriented, fun oriented player. He is used to the fact that all players on the team are best friends and doing things together all the time, its like a big family, he is bound to be caught by a major culture shock. The NBA is his ultimate goal but if ever a person was not suited for the NBA in all aspects, its him.

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  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    I’m shocked to think that Rubio wont want to play for a losing team. He’d get 35 minutes a game on the Wolves, instead of 15-20 on the Spurs.
    Although, with Spoelstra’s love of defense and hatred of offense, Rubio could maybe play 48 minutes a game.