California Love May Bring Rubio Out West

Warriors fans with visions of Ricky Rubio dancing through their early off-season have reason to keep hope alive.

Despite Golden State's not moving up in the draft lottery and getting dealt the seventh pick, a rumor that hit the web Thursday hints that Rubio's agent wants the kid on a California team. And Rubio has legitimate leverage to get his demand, thanks to the sticky matter that he's still under contract in Spain.

What appears to be an anonymous league source quoted on the draftnik site DraftExpress says that Rubio is specifically giving the shiv to destinations Memphis and Oklahoma City.

"Rubio doesn’t want to go to Memphis," the report attributes to a league source. "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."

Wait a minute -- did a draft-eligible player just try to get drafted by the Sacramento Kings? Whoa. Don't be surprised to see four hooded dudes on horseback and an apocalypse here in the next couple few hours.

Some especially large caveats should apply to this report. Primarily, it's not entirely clear that the author does, in fact, have a real inside source here. Quote marks do appear on several of the remarks, but not until well further into the piece does the author say he's actually getting this stuff from an NBA source. One can only assume that all of the earlier remarks with quote marks are also coming from this source.

And it's anyone's guess, of course, whether this source is in a position to know. Sure, the author might have caught Arn Tellem at an airport bar after six gin-and-tonics. Or he might just be talking to his own six empty gin-and-tonic glasses.

But the notion makes complete sense, as Rubio's agent Dan Fegan attempted to engineer similar demands with Yi Jianlian in the 2007 draft. One would assume -- just assuming -- that Fegan and Rubio are angling to get the Spanish point guard into a metropolitan area with a substantial Latino population, based on the fact that Fegan had specifically wanted Yi in a city with a large Chinese population. The NBA has several top-flight international stars, but still not really a dominant one who plays in a city with a large enclave of that player's ethnicity. The theory goes that getting an elite international player in a city with a large community of that player's ethnicity would fulfill the NBA's nastiest merchandise sales and public relations fantasies.

The quote doesn't specifically mention Golden State, only Los Angeles and Sacramento. But surely the Bay Area would meet Rubio's specifications for an area with a large Latino and Spanish-speaking population. Bet you anything he'd rather be here than expletive-deleted Oklahoma City.

What gives Fegan and Rubio unique leverage here is that Rubio remains under contract with European League team DKV Joventut. Not only does that allow Rubio a credible avenue of refusal if he's picked by Memphis or Oklahoma City, it indicates a possible legal battle over his rights and a required buyout rumored to be as high as $9 million. That's a cost on top of Rubio's salary, and the downside could cause a few teams to pass on him.

Granted, we're connecting a couple dots that may or may not exist -- that Rubio's agent really does want him out West, and that Golden State would be as attractive to them as L.A. or Sacramento. But compared to Tuesday night when the ping pong balls dealt the Warriors their fate, our odds of getting Ricky Rubio may have just improved.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who will spend nearly the next month concocting Ricky-Rubio-to-the-Warriors scenarios.

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