The Lakers’ search for a point guard this offseason won’t be exclusive to just star names like Chris Paul or Kyle Lowry. A host of salary cap-related complications makes acquiring either of those guys difficult, meaning other names are probably more likely to come to training camp this fall, including the incumbent Dennis Schröder.
One of the more intriguing sub-star names, however, is long-time Laker killer and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio. Currently with the Spanish national team at the Olympics in Tokyo, Rubio has had two strong showings, drawing the attention of many teams across the league, including the Lakers.
#Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio brilliant today, as Spain beat Argentina. Among teams doing trade due-diligence on him: #Celtics, #Clippers, #Lakers. Rubio finished today’s game with 26 points. Appears Leandro Bolmaro only got garbage time run for Argentina. pic.twitter.com/nFv8u3SCd2— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) July 29, 2021
Against Japan in the first game of the Olympics, Rubio scored 20 points with nine assists in a victory. He followed that up 26 points, five rebounds and four assists on 8-of-13 shooting overall and 5-of-6 shooting from the 3-point line in a win over Argentina on Thursday.
To Laker fans, Rubio is known for his monster performances against the purple and gold. For his career, Rubio averages 11.0 points while shooting 39.1% from the field and 32.5% from beyond the arc. Against the Lakers, Rubio averages 12.7 points and shoots 43.6% from the field and 37.6% from the 3-point line.
Rubio is in the final year of his contract and is set to make $17.8 million this season. His slightly more favorable deal means he could be an easier contract to trade than some of the other names the Lakers have been linked to. Any of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell all would work financially in a trade for Rubio this off-season as the three most likely names to be included in rumors this offseason.
Rubio could also bridge the gap for one season until the team hands the point guard reigns fully over to Alex Caruso and/or Talen Horton-Tucker in the future, should both or either be re-signed this offseason. A pass-first, defensive specialist playmaker, Rubio checks lots of boxes for the Lakers backcourt.
The one box he doesn’t check, though, is his 3-point shooting. A remarkably streaky shooter throughout his career, Rubio has shot as highly as 36.1% from the 3-point line in 2019-20 and as low as 25.5% in an injury-riddled 2014-15 season.
As a result, Rubio may not be the first option for the Lakers this summer, and he may not even be ahead of Schröder, but there are worse fallback options should the Timberwolves be open to a trade, which seems likely given their crowded backcourt that includes D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards.