The Minnesota Timberwolves cannot do much financially to help Ricky Rubio with a multimillion-dollar buyout of his contract with DKV Joventut in Spain.
So team president David Kahn will head across the Atlantic next week to meet with the team personally in hopes of lowering the $6.6 million price tag that has threatened to keep the wunderkind point guard in Europe for at least next season.
Kahn confirmed his plans to travel to Spain in a text message to The Associated Press on Thursday, but declined further comment. It was first reported by YahooSports.com.
Rubio, who was drafted fifth overall by the Timberwolves in June, is still under contract with Joventut for the next two seasons. After helping Spain to a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics and playing in the Spanish ACB since the tender age of 14, the 18-year-old is ready to test his skills in the NBA.
The one thing holding him back appears to be money. Rubio made less than $100,000 playing for Joventut last season, so it is no surprise that the prospect of being on the hook for millions of dollars before he even plays a game in the United States would give him pause.
Further complicating the matter is a rule in the NBA's collective bargaining agreement that stipulates the Timberwolves can only pay $500,000 of that large sum to help offset the cost.
From the day Kahn drafted Rubio, to the delight of the Timberwolves fan base, the new president has taken a pragmatic approach to a sticky situation. He said the young and rebuilding team would be willing to wait a year, or even two, if Rubio could not reach an agreeable buyout agreement with Joventut.
BZDELIK TALKS WITH T-WOLVES: Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn says basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik had a "casual" conversation with the Minnesota Timberwolves about their head coaching vacancy.
Bohn told the Daily Camera in Boulder he believes Bzdelik is committed to the Buffaloes. Any further discussions with the Timberwolves would require permission from Colorado.
Bzdelik was on a recruiting trip Thursday and unavailable for comment. He told the Rocky Mountain Independent in Denver earlier Thursday he spoke with Timberwolves general manager David Kahn at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Bzdelik became the Denver Nuggets' head coach for 2002-03 and was fired midway through 2004-05.
After the Nuggets, Bzdelik went to the Air Force Academy and then Colorado.
LEE WILL NOT PLAY IN MINICAMP: David Lee's unresolved contract situation will keep him on the sideline next week when USA Basketball holds its minicamp in Las Vegas.
Mark Bartelstein, Lee's agent, said Thursday the New York Knicks forward will travel to Las Vegas but won't take part in competition. The Americans are scheduled to practice July 23-24 and play an intrasquad scrimmage on July 25.
Lee was one of 25 young players invited to participate. The minicamp is being used to identify potential candidates for available spots on the 2010 world championship team.