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Love's not playing tonight

  • Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
  • April 6, 2011 - 11:27 PM

Kent's covering tonight's Suns game at Target Center, but I thought I'd chime in on few things.

* Kevin Love is not playing tonight because of that injured groin, but Darko Milicic will return to the starting lineup from that sprained ankle.

Anthony Tolliver started at a forward spot for the first time. Kurt Rambis took Wayne Ellington out of the starting lineup, moved Wes Johnson back to guard and has Beasley at small forward next to Darko and A.T.

 * Did you see the Hoopshype.com headline earlier today that had the blaring headline about Ricky Rubio telling the Wolves he's coming next season, dependent, of course, on a likely labor lockout.

 They took one throwaway line in a Ken Berger CBSSports.com piece and made a huge headline of it, but it's basically what David Kahn has been saying for weeks:

He expects Rubio to be here.

 And here's the date to watch: May 31.

There's a provision in the current CBA that allows for the Wolves to sign Rubio by then under this labor deal, a move that would assure him of the existing rookie scale rather than take his chances on what a new CBA will look like.

Timing could be a little tricky because Rubio's Barcelona team probably will still be playing then, but Kahn has been confident at every turn that Rubio's coming and he's hinting that it could be sooner rather than later.

 Rubio will have to work out that buyout with his current team, but it's much more affordable and do-able this time around than it was two years ago with DKV Joventut.

The guaranteed deal is one factor. Another probably is that Rubio has regressed in Europe these last two seasons. He isn't playing big minutes. He hasn't taken that next step that was expected of him and I'm betting he believes it's time now to make the leap to the NBA.

There's two schools of thought on that regression: Either he has been over-hyped and will never fulfill his teenage promise or he grew bored in Europe when he should have challenged himself by moving to the NBA, where Kahn believes he will thrive because of style of play and rules that allow point guards to maneuver untouched, quite unlike the European game.

* Milicic talked with us media types before the game about fund-raising he's doing to help children in his native Serbia who desperately need medical treatment to fight Batten Disease, a terminal childhood disease.

He read about four children in a Serbian newspaper and helped pay for them ($35,000 each) to travel to China for stem-cell treatment.

Now he will raffle off his 2004 NBA championship ring, a championship belt Detroit teammate Rasheed Wallace had made for players and a trip to the NBA Finals.

 "Especially me becoming a father, I couldn't watch that," he said, referring to reading about the plight of children ages 8 to 12.

Asked if it was a difficult decision to part with a championship ring, he said, "No, no, especially saving a kid's life. A ring's a ring. If that ring can save as many lives as I think it's going to save, not at all.

"The belt is a little bit different because it was a gift from Rasheed Wallace. But I think he's going to understand because it's going to go for a great cause."

Ron Artest raffled off his NBA championship ring to benefit mental health awareness last fall and it reportedly fetched $500,000.

 "He did a great job and now I'm going to try to do the best I can," he said.

Milicic also said he and the Wolves will have a local fundraiser at next week's season finale against Houston, when he is inviting local children with the disease and their families to the game.

Milicic said he is encouraged that research here in the United States soon will develop a vaccine.

That's all from Target Center tonight pregame.

Kent will be back with some deep post-game insights.

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