x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Rubio turns down the chance to join NBA

Ricky Rubio says he preferred to keep playing basketball at home in Spain because joining the Minnesota Timberwolves was a risky move that would complicate his life.

BARCELONA // Ricky Rubio says he preferred to keep playing basketball at home in Spain because joining the Minnesota Timberwolves was a risky move that would complicate his life. The talented 19-year-old point guard, the Timberwolves' fifth round pick in this year's draft, was sent from DKV Joventut to Barcelona on Tuesday after the Catalan club paid Rubio's ?3.5 million (Dh18.4m) buy-out clause.

Rubio agreed to a six-year deal that included a buy-out clause that allows him to leave for the NBA after two years. "Going to Minnesota would have just complicated my life a lot. It was a risk and I didn't see it so clearly," Rubio said. "My priority was the NBA and it was impossible for the Minnesota Timberwolves to pay my buy-out clause, so I wanted to stay home." The Timberwolves' president, David Kahn, travelled to Spain three times to try to work out a deal and appeared to have secured Rubio's passage to Minnesota less than 48 hours before the player changed his mind, preferring to stay on home soil to prepare for life in the NBA.

NBA guidelines limit the amount of money Minnesota could have contributed to Rubio's buy out to $500,000, although Kahn said a package of endorsement deals and sponsorships had helped make the NBA deal attractive enough for Rubio and Joventut to enter into an agreement on Saturday. "They could only put half a million into it and I think that the deal with Minnesota had too many obstacles," Rubio said.

Rubio said he was still committed to going to the NBA, even though there is no guarantee the starting point guard spot that was his to lose this season will still be around. "I won't lie," Rubio said. "My objective has always been the NBA." * AP