Ricky Rubio Will Try to Convince Kevin Love to Stay with Minnesota Timberwolves

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 8, 2014

DENVER, CO - March 3: Kevin Love #42 and Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves talk during the game against the Denver Nuggets on March 3, 2014 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Ricky Rubio may be young, but he clearly has an advanced understanding of what Kevin Love's potential departure could do to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Maybe that's why he's planning to chat with his disgruntled teammate as soon as he returns from training in Italy.

Rubio told NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper:

Of course I want him to stay. ...

I don’t want to convince him if he doesn’t want to stay. But I want him to stay and I’m going to tell him what I think, which is we’ve been improving every year and he’s a great player, he helps us a lot. I think we need to make the next step. … The media says it’s pretty settled, but I don’t know what he thinks. What I’ve been hearing is from the media, not from him, so I don’t trust that. It can be an opinion from you guys. I just really want to talk to him as a teammate.

It sounds like there might be some naivete at work here—at least on the surface. The notion that Love and his camp are most likely the ones feeding rumors of his dissatisfaction to the media seems to have escaped Rubio's notice.

At the same time, Rubio has been around pro ball in some form since his teens, so we might be underestimating him a bit.

After all, he seems to have a firm grasp on the way Love's exit would cast the Wolves into upheaval, shaking up a solid foundation and halting the progress made to this point.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 6: Ricky Rubio #9 and Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves slap hands against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on January 6, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges a
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More than that, he's tossing out some equivocal language about his own future—perhaps as a subtle hint to the organization that keeping Love needs to be the team's top priority, telling Howard-Cooper:

I like Minnesota. But I want to win too. Of course when a big guy like him leaves you’re thinking about what’s going to be happening with the team. Are we going to lose a lot? Before I came to Minnesota, the season before they won like 17 games. I was a little scared when I went there. I’m coming from Europe, where I was playing in Barcelona. I think we lost six games or seven games in two seasons and every loss was a disaster. I don’t want to go through a process like every win is something special.

Though he stops short of saying "If he goes, I go," Rubio seems to be signaling his future is tied to Love's.

That would be a fine ploy if Minnesota actually had any control over the situation. Hypothetically, Rubio's veiled threat would force the Timberwolves to double down on their efforts to keep Love around.

But the truth is, Love is holding all the cards here. He can walk away next summer (probably after a miserable 2014-15 campaign), leaving the Wolves with nothing.

We know the Timberwolves are trying to make Love-appeasing moves, but we also know Love isn't interested in being appeased.

So why pretend as though Rubio's input will have any impact on Love's already made-up mind?

Rubio may soon have to get comfortable with disappointment, as whatever deal the Wolves eventually strike will come from a position of weakness. Love wants out, and everybody knows it, which makes the task of getting fair value in return almost impossible.

The days of piling up a 109.9 offensive rating as a two-man unit, per NBA.com, are likely coming to an end for Rubio and Love. And the modicum of spacing Love provided to offset Rubio's broken shot will be gone from Minny's offense sooner rather than later.

Rubio can make a plea if he wants to, but it won't work.

Love is as good as gone from Minnesota, and what's worse, his impending exit could result in Rubio looking to follow him out of town.