ST. PAUL -- Ricky Rubio’s return stint in Minnesota lasted all of one year.
Rubio was acquired by the Timberwolves on NBA draft night in 2020, and dealt away on draft night in 2021. Minnesota traded the veteran point guard to Cleveland for Taurean Prince, a 2022 second-round pick and cash.
Prince gives Minnesota more shooting, something NBA teams can never have enough of. He is a 37% 3-point shooter for his career and hit 40% of his shots from deep last season.
Prince played 41 games in the 2020-21 season between Brooklyn and Cleveland and had season-ending ankle surgery in April. The 6-foot-7 forward is 27 years old.
Rubio’s season in Minnesota was a mixed bag. The 30-year-old Spaniard struggled to find his rhythm playing alongside a new cast of characters, and the two-point guard lineups featuring Rubio and D’Angelo Russell were rarely successful.
But, more importantly, Rubio was Anthony Edwards’ primary mentor. Edwards credited Rubio on countless occasions for aiding in his development during a scintillating rookie season. Another year with Rubio likely only would have ensured Edwards continued down the proper path toward stardom, but dealing the point guard gives Minnesota added shooting and a little more wiggle room in terms of cap space.
Prince is set to make $13 million this season — $4.8 million less than Rubio. That creates added space below the luxury tax line, freeing up Minnesota to use more of its mid-level exception when free agency hits next week.
Rubio has starred for Spain early in Olympic competition.