Friday, May 22, 2009

The Curious Case of Ricky Rubio

There's a lot of buzz around the young Spaniard and the upcoming NBA draft. He could go anywhere from 1st pick to 5th pick, but the general consensus is that he's a top 5 pick, and after watching his performance in the Olympics last year it's no surprise. This kid can seriously ball...and he's only 18!

His agent Dan Fegan made some noise by implying that Rubio would not agree to play for a smaller-market team such as Memphis or Oklahoma City. From Draft Express:

"Rubio doesn't want to go to Memphis, and he especially does not want to pay money out of his own pocket with that huge buyout for the honor of doing so. Fegan [Rubio's agent] wants him in L.A., and if he can't have him there, he wants him in Sacramento. Definitely not Oklahoma City. "

So he must be another Steve Francis or Eli Manning, right? Well it's a little more complicated than that...allow me to explain.

The thing with Rubio that is going overlooked is that his current club, DKV Joventut, is forcing Rubio to pay a 7 million Euro buyout should he decide to enter the NBA draft. With NBA type salary, that shouldn't be a problem right? Well he doesn't play for the NBA yet, his yearly salary with DKV Joventut is something closer to 200,000 Euro a year. He would essentially be playing for free for his first couple of years in the NBA just to pay off his debt.

So why does he not want to play in Memphis or Oklahoma City? Endorsements. In those cities, basketball takes a backseat to other local teams (Tennessee Titans, Oklahoma Sooners, etc.) so he would not have as good an opportunity to make more money to pay off that debt. A city like Los Angeles or Sacramento where basketball is primetime would result in much more money from endorsements coming in for Rubio.

So why should we feel sorry for him, he's eventually going to be a rich NBA player anyway right? Well, first of all this kid is willing to go into 7 million Euro worth of debt just to get a chance to play in the NBA when he could just stay in Spain. Rubio's huge in Spain and likely to become even more popular, as well as earning a decent, risk-free paycheck. But in the NBA, he's running the risk of getting injured in his rookie season and then having no way to pay that debt off... he's really taking a leap of faith here so I can understand why he wouldn't want to go to smaller-market teams. This is so much more different than Yi Jianlian, Eli Manning, or Steve Francis because they were just crybabies who didn't want to play at a certain city...Rubio's got a lot more to lose than those scrubs did.

So whenever Rubio gets drafted (if he does come out), I'm definitely going to be buying his jersey to help the kid pay back his 7 million Euro debt. I can only hope that once he pays it off he can help me pay off my student loan and credit card debt... maybe even Rick Reilly can write a stupid feel-good piece about it. Hear me Ricky? I'll scratch your back now but it would be totally awesome if you could scratch mine in a few years.

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