By Jerry Zgoda
Here’s the gist from Spanish media reports the last day or two on the Ricky Rubio Saga:
Two teams in Spanish’s top ACB league — Real Madrid and Unicaja Malaga — are trying to negotiate to reach an agreement with his current DKV Joventut team on that big buyout and sign him.
Real Madrid has more clout, but Unicaja Malaga looks like the favorite if he stays in Europe because of Rubio’s close relationship with Malaga coach “Aito” Garcia Reneses, who coached him at Joventut and also was the Spanish Olympic team’s head coach last summer in Beijing and because Rubio would rather live in beautiful Malaga closer to his hometown than big Madrid.
Unicaja, a financial institution that sponsors the Malaga team, is, according to reports, is willing to pay a good chunk — but not all — of the $6.6 million buyout Rubio owes if he wants release from the final two years of his contract. The bank figures Rubio would become an iconic marketing figure for them in Spain, much like Pau Gasol or Rafael Nadal.
One sticking point: Unicaja wants a three-year commitment and Rubio reportedly isn’t sure he wants to delay his NBA debut that long. Real Madrid is willing to allow him to come to the NBA after two years.
Either team can pay Joventut as much as they want to resolve the buyout situation. The Wolves, by NBA rules, can only pay $500,000.
Another European team buying out his contract and signing him is a more more plausible to disrupt his immediate future with the Wolves.
All talk a week ago that he’d return to Joventut for two more years rather than pay the buyout is little more than negotiating tactics.