Ricky Rubio is hunting for the max

Ricky Rubio should be feeling pretty excited right now with the athletes coming onto what we can essentially call his team.

The Spanish wunderkind too his sweet time getting to the United States, lighting up YouTube with great ball-handling and impressive passes. Teamed up with Kevin Love, he helped make plenty of highlights but not any Playoff appearances.

In fact, you could call Rubio’s three-year run in the NBA a little bit disappointing. After all, Rubio was drafted a year after Love (although it took him two more years to make it to the NBA). He was supposed to be part of Minnesota’s core players.

Instead he has averaged 10.1 points and 8.1 assists per game (solid numbers) on a horrific 36.8 percent field goal shooting. Rubio is not a bad player. He is a solid point guard. But his shot has not come around and that has hurt him and his team in the long run. It kept them from making the Playoffs as much as the injuries that always dogged Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic (or the management missteps that failed to put together a solid bench around back-to-back top-five picks in Love and Rubio).

Ricky Rubio is entering restricted free agency for the first time after this season. He is eligible for an extension now. And he has only one idea for what he is worth: the max, as Darren Wolfson of Channel 5 and 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis told Sportando.

Rubio is on notice. The Wolves are trying to sign him to an extension, and so far his agent, Dan Fegan, is balking at the idea of a 4-year, $43 million deal. That’s plenty for a player of Rubio’s caliber. It’s a lot more than Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague makes — maybe a better player — and is what Golden State All-Star guard Stephen Curry makes. But Fegan is seeking the 5-year max. That’s not happening. The situation is pointing toward Rubio being a restricted free agent next summer. In other words, the 2014-2015 season is huge for Rubio. He should improve his shooting under Flip and we know he has unbelievable athletes to cut to the hoop and catch alley-oop passes.

This is going to be a serious question for the Timberwolves this season. How much is Rubio worth?

The max seems to be too much. Especially for a guy with a shot chart that looks like this:

That is a lot of missed shots around the rim and not a lot of areas where Rubio is in need of desperate improvement. It is hard seeing him get the max if that is what he and agent Dan Fegan are really after. Kyle Lowry‘s four-year, $48 million seems more in line with what Rubio could get, if not less.

Rubio just has not taken that big step forward. Certainly not for the max.

This year’s Timberwolves will give him that opportunity to be more of a central piece though. Pekovic and Rubio will be the veterans, along with Thaddeus Young, leading the post-Kevin Love world. Rubio though will have to take a bigger scoring load and be more of a driving force on the team.

It is a contract year, so it is certainly possible for him to do that as players are wont to do before their big payday. Flip Saunders and the Wolves will have to figure out where Rubio fits into their plans moving forward with Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett now in the fold.

The good news, Rubio should have plenty of running mates. Rookie Zach LaVine and Wiggins can fly down the court creating a dangerous fast break duo.

Still, it feels a long way for Rubio to be considered a franchise player, much less a max contract player.

Good luck in negotiations.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily