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Utah Jazz trade for point guard Ricky Rubio before free agency


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SALT LAKE CITY β€” Hours before free agency begins, the Utah Jazz added to their roster in another way, by trading for Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio.

Multiple reports say that Rubio has been traded to the Jazz in exchange for a 2018 first round draft pick. The Deseret News reported that the Jazz were in the market for Rubio last week, meanwhile, The Salt Lake Tribune was the first to report the trade was finalized. KSL.com confirmed the trade.

The pick, acquired by the Jazz from Oklahoma City in exchange for Enes Kanter in 2015, is lottery protected during the 2018, 2019, and 2020 drafts. If it is not conveyed during those three years, Oklahoma City will owe Minnesota two second round picks.

The Jazz were able to fit Rubio's contract, about $14.5 million, into their cap space which was expiring at 10 p.m. MT Friday. Last season's starting point guard, George Hill, is a free agent this offseason. The Jazz could still re-sign Hill, but likely would have to commit $40 million to their point guard position, making the proposition unlikely.

Meanwhile, Rubio is an international star point guard, now entering his seventh NBA season at the age of 26. Rubio averaged 11.1 points and 9.1 assists per game for the Timberwolves last season, along with 1.7 steals per game on the defensive end.

Rubio is an excellent passer and defender at the point guard position, but a notoriously poor scorer. Rubio has shot just 31 percent from the 3-point line in his NBA career, and makes only 48 percent of layups within three feet of the basket. His scoring did improve in the second half of the Timberwolves' season, when he scored over 16 points per game and shot over 35 percent from 3-point range.

But his defense and playmaking adds value. ESPN's real plus-minus ranked Rubio as the ninth best point guard in the NBA in on-court value. As ESPN's Stats and Info division pointed out, only John Stockton, Chris Paul and Rubio have averaged at least eight assists and two steals per game over the course of their careers.

Rubio was teammates and roommates with Jazz wing Joe Ingles when the pair played in Barcelona in 2010 before Rubio came to the NBA. Jazz draftee Donovan Mitchell also welcomed Rubio to the Jazz.

@rickyrubio9 Bienvenidos a Utah vamos a trabajar πŸ™πŸΎπŸ€ (No I didn't use a translator)πŸ˜‚ β€” Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) June 30, 2017

> Let's get it [@rickyrubio9](https://twitter.com/rickyrubio9) !!! > > β€” Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) [June 30, 2017](https://twitter.com/rudygobert27/status/880926031875461120)

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Andy Larsen

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