Ricky Rubio's second stint with the Timberwolves has come to an end.
The Wolves are trading Rubio to Cleveland in exchange for forward Taurean Prince, a 2022 second-round pick and cash, a source confirmed, as the Wolves did not stand pat on draft night despite having no picks in either round.
They didn't trade into the draft but did sign Champlin Park alum McKinley Wright to a two-way deal. Wright played in college at Colorado and averaged 15.2 points his senior season.
Rubio came back to Minnesota on a draft night trade last season and now he exits on another draft night trade. His homecoming wasn't all that he or fans might have dreamt it would be after he got off to a slow start.
Rubio said it was difficult to get up to speed early because of the disjointed offseason before playing better in the second half. He averaged 8.6 points, a career low, and 6.4 assists. He's currently playing for Spain in the Olympics.
"Before the pandemic hit, I think I was playing my best basketball," Rubio said at the end of the season. "I was coming off of a great summer with the national team in the World Cup, and then a great year in Phoenix. I was finishing the season really strong and then the pandemic hits and kind of throws me off my game. And I got to get back to that."
The Wolves still did not have a pick in the draft Thursday. With the No. 7 pick the Wolves ceded to Golden State, the Warriors selected Jonathan Kuminga, 18, a forward from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who has been playing basketball in the United States since 2016.
Rubio's partnership in the backcourt with D'Angelo Russell also got off to a rocky start from a chemistry standpoint but after Rubio filled in capably in the starting lineup when Russell was out because of arthroscopic knee surgery, that pairing became better in the final weeks of the season.
His biggest impact last season likely came in his mentorship of rookie Anthony Edwards, who frequently lauded Rubio's leadership and friendship. When asked about his favorite parts of playing his rookie year recently, Edwards said getting to play alongside Rubio was a highlight.
President Gersson Rosas couldn't comment specifically on the trade because it wasn't official, but did say he was confident in the support system the team has for Edwards.
"It's important to realize that Ant, No. 1, is his own guy," Rosas said. "His talent is pretty special. There's been a number of individuals who have really helped and supported him this year. But at the same time, we all know the only constant in this business is change, maturation, growth and development."
Rubio played six years with the Wolves from 2011-17 before the Wolves traded him to Utah, only for Rosas to get him back before last season.
Rosas made the move in part because he has pledged to bolster the power forward position. Prince helps with that, though the Wolves might not be done in part because Prince is set to make $13 million for the last season on his contract. That's $4.8 million less than Rubio, which means the Wolves have some additional cap space to maneuver in free agency, which begins Monday.
"[We're trying to] get bigger as a team overall to address some of our defensive weaknesses, rebounding and how we want to play," Rosas said. "It's something we consistently look at."
Prince has played five seasons between Atlanta, Brooklyn and Cleveland. He averaged 9.5 points per game between the Nets and Cavaliers last season and had ankle surgery in April. He's averaged 11.3 points for his career and is a 37% three-point shooter.
Prince has made more valuable contributions on defense than offense, according to Basketball Reference's advanced statistic known as win shares, or how much a player contributed to his team winning. Prince has 7.2 defensive win shares for his career and -1.1 offensive win shares.