The Pros and Cons Of A 'Rubio For Rose' Deal

Alexander Shun | @alexpshun

Digital Content Manager |

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio has been enveloped in trade rumors for the past two or three seasons now and in each of those seasons, as the trade deadline neared, a report would surface of a potential trade for the six-year pro. This season is no different as a report surfaced late Monday night that the Timberwolves had inquired about swapping Rubio for New York Knicks veteran guard Derrick Rose.

The reported deal is a straight-swap of Rubio-for-Rose, although it would surprise nobody if Minnesota had to include another piece (forward Shabazz Muhammad, for example) to complete the deal. 

As is the case with any trade made in any professional sports league, there are many pros and cons for each team. In this case, there are pros and cons for the Timberwolves should they send Rubio to New York. Let's start with the pros.


Rose Has Experience With Timberwolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau

Derrick Rose played under current Timberwolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau during his tenure with the Chicago Bulls and, together, the two were quite successful. Injuries derailed Rose's time in Chicago but his admiration and respect for Thibodeau has remained.

Thibodeau has praised Rubio throughout the season and has done his best to stick with the Spaniard at the point guard position, but seemingly is ready to move on from Rubio and get a guy of his choice to run the show. 

Rose can step in and will immediately know the system and what it is that Thibodeau is trying to do, and that is something the 'Wolves head coach might not be able to pass up.

Rubio is learning the system and has been getting better as the season has progressed, but Rose would require no learning curve and Thibodeau would have a guy at the point that he knows and trusts.

Rose Is A Better Athlete And Scorer Than Rubio

For his career, Rose is averaging 19.5 points per game and shooting 45 percent from the floor while dishing out six assists; quite impressive, particularly when compared to Rubio's career averages of 9.9 points on 37 percent shooting. Rubio does have higher assist numbers at 8.3 assists per game for his career, but not by a large margin.

Rose has always been an explosive athlete - although he did lose quite a bit of that explosiveness after the multiple knee surgeries -  and he has been able to do many things that Rubio has struggled to do, including shooting and making long-range twos consistently and finishing at the rim with contact, which is a huge weakness of Rubio's, though many consider the Spaniard to be a poor scorer in all regards.

While it is true that Rose is older (we'll get to that in a moment), he would provide a huge scoring boost from the point position, something Minnesota has lacked all season from not only Rubio,  but Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones as well.

Admittedly Rose is not the athlete that he once was, but his ability to move between defenders, open the floor and, as previously mentioned, score at the rim, would be invaluable to a Timberwolves team sitting on the edge of a playoff spot right now.

There is only one question that truly needs to be asked in this regard and that is: Which is more valuable: Rose's scoring or Rubio's passing? Given the drastic differential between the two's scoring abilities, it would likely be Rose's scoring that would prove to be more valuable.


Is Rose Simply A Rental? The Game Of Contracts

The difference in contracts should play a huge factor in the Timberwolves decision to potentially move Rubio and, with Rose's $21 million contract set to expire at the end of the season, it would appear that Rubio's contract (two-and-a half years remaining at just over $14 million per year) would be the better choice here. 

But Dunn is waiting in the wings and is the point guard of the future, right?That is correct, but, although Dunn has shown flashes of his potential this season, he has not proven that he can shoot the ball efficiently and consistently yet. Rubio hasn't proven that either, but he at least has experience running an offense and his experience would make him a valuable piece to keep, even if it's just for one more season. 

Let's say that the 'Wolves make this trade and bring in Rose, what do they do when Rose's contract expires at the end of the season? Do they chase a big-time free agent point guard like Kyle Lowry, George Hill or Jeff Teague, or do they re-sign Rose at a lesser price? Or, do they embrace their youth and hand the point to Dunn?

If they choose not to re-sign Rose, they then face the reality of having given up Rubio for a three-month rental player in Rose and if they hand the offense to Dunn and he proves that he's NOT ready or has not developed enough, then the possibility of another lost season becomes more and more likely.

Rubio Is A Younger Player With More Growth Potential

Rubio is a 26-year old guard with a bright future ahead of him. Yes, he struggles to score the ball and tends to gamble quite a bit defensively, but he is also one of the most electric and dynamic passers in the NBA and he ranks eighth at his position in defensive real plus-minus.

On the other hand, Rose is slightly older (28) and has reached his ceiling when it comes to development and room to grow. Everyone knows the type of player that Rose is and that likely won't change much during the remainder of his career, meanwhile Rubio can still improve his shooting, can become even better on defense and, given another season under Thibodeau, can learn his systems and have the offense running like a well-oiled machine.

Of course, that's wishful thinking and Rubio may very well not develop any further, remaining a 37 percent career shooter while struggling to learn Thibodeau's system, but the potential is there. 

The Timberwolves are a team built on youth and potential right now. Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn are all young players with worlds of potential and Minnesota is banking on them reaching that potential to make the team contenders again. Why not bet on one more young(ish) guy and his potential to be a very good player in this league?

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