Occam's razor, when applied in its most basic form, suggests that the simplest explanation or solution is the best one.
If we apply that to Ricky Rubio's comments following yet another lopsided Timberwolves loss Sunday in this 7-28 season — as it was no doubt originally intended — we see that the simplest explanation is, indeed, probably the best one.
Rubio wearily noted that the Wolves "need a break" and said, "There's a lot of things we have to figure out and correct and get better. ... It's more on us to compete, be in every game, start with everybody. Kat [Karl-Anthony Towns], Ant [Anthony Edwards], me, got to lead out there. Everybody got to do a better job."
The easiest and simplest explanation: Rubio is tired of losing and frustrated by a season that has not gone anywhere near according to plan. He wants things to improve, and he's imploring the key stakeholders — himself included — to be better.
Case closed. Except ...
I also sense that Rubio was sending a message with everything he said, something I talked about toward the end of Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
If you don't see the podcast player, click here to listen.
Maybe part of that message is still pretty simple: I am counted upon to be a veteran leader on this team, and when something needs to be said I will say it. He has already spoken his mind on multiple occasions as this season has devolved into what it has become, and there really is no sense sugarcoating things.
Perhaps part of his message is more complex, though, and is critical of the way the Wolves are building — and losing — instead of just being frustrated by the losing itself.
"There is some evidence it may work like what happened with Philadelphia, I guess," Rubio said. " 'Trust the process' when they went like two, three years, really bad and then they started winning. I kind of don't believe in that kind of system. We have to build good habits from Day One and I don't think we are in the right way to be honest."
I think the Wolves could win more games this season if they played a style more conducive to their current personnel. Instead, they are playing fast and letting it fly from three-point range — including 54 tries from deep in new head coach Chris Finch's debut last week against Milwaukee. They are playing the way they eventually want to play — when they have different players.
Whether that's building good habits is a subject of debate, but Rubio at least seems to be saying that the intended consequence is not happening right now. I mean, they're 4-30 in the last 34 games Towns has played. Something isn't right here.
"If you do the same mistake over and over again, it means you're not learning," Rubio said. "Learning through mistakes as a young team can happen, but then make different mistakes. I think we're doing the same mistakes over and over."
Rubio was never part of a winning culture in his first go-round with the Wolves — who, comically or tragically depending on your point of view took over the active "lead" in major North American pro sports with their loss Sunday to the Suns. Per NBA Reddit, they now have the worst all-time winning percentage of any active major pro sports franchise — .393, edging out the Super Bowl champion (but often woeful) Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Wolves are now 149-237 in the all-time games Rubio has played for Minnesota — a .386 winning percentage that is even worse than the franchise mark. But he escaped that once, when Tom Thibodeau traded him to Utah. In three seasons away from Minnesota (two with the Jazz, one with the Suns), Rubio's teams were 116-94 when he played (.552).
He went away. He saw what a winning culture looks like. And he knows this isn't it, at least not right now. And he has no interest in suffering through a rebuilding "process."
So maybe the final piece of what he is saying is a plea: Get me out of here.
The trade deadline is a few weeks away and lines up roughly with when D'Angelo Russell should be back from his surgery.
Rubio has not played up to his $17 million a year contract (which has one more season after this one), but almost from the moment the Wolves traded for him on draft night in November there was a notion that they could trade him again as a salary piece before his contract expires.
Surely both sides hoped for a happier reunion, but it hasn't worked for the Wolves or Rubio so far. He's never looked fully comfortable this season. If the Wolves would hire a coach from a different organization in the middle of a pandemic season, nothing is off the table.
Again: It's more likely that this was just Rubio expressing his frustration and his hope that things improve.
But he was 100% correct about one thing: the Wolves badly need a break.
And if the upcoming week off doesn't help recharge things, the second half could be even uglier.
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