It's not uncommon for good teams with loaded rosters to select European players in the draft, planning to "stash" them overseas for a year or two, until a roster spot becomes available. The Spurs and Blazers have this down to a science.
The Timberwolves, on the other hand, are neither "good" nor "loaded" -- and they certainly didn't plan to have the fifth overall selection of the 2009 draft play in Europe for two more years. But it appears Ricky Rubio will do exactly that.
ESPN.com is reporting that Rubio's contract has been sold to FC Barcelona, more or less ensuring that the Spanish playmaker won't make his first appearance in the NBA until 2011 at the earliest.
Minnesota's spin on all this will be something along these lines: "We knew this was a possibility all along, which is why we drafted Jonny Flynn with the sixth overall spot. Besides, in 2011, Rubio will be just 21 years old." Don't believe that for a second.
The T-Wolves didn't think Rubio would fall to them at five and, by their own admission, hadn't discussed buyout possibilities with his Spanish league team or his representatives. But when the player most considered the second or third-best player in the draft fell in their laps at five, David Kahn took a chance, hoping he'd be able to work out some sort of buyout arrangement with DKV Joventut. He gambled. He lost.
Can't help wondering if things would have worked out differently if Rubio had been drafted by another team. Leading up to the draft, he seemed interested in playing for Sacramento or the Knicks; he never showed the slightest interest in Minnesota.