NBA Notebook

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Associated Press
The NBA notebook …
MINNEAPOLIS ó For two years, Minnesota Timberwolves fans have been tantalized by the myth of Ricky Rubio.
Rubioís Spanish league games were rarely on television in the Twin Cities, so they watched grainy YouTube highlights ó a behind-the-back pass here, a nifty dribble there ó to get their fix. The air of mystery only seemed to increase the hype.
The 20-year-old point guard held his first press conference in Minnesota on Tuesday, looking to pull back the curtain and introduce himself to the fans who have so eagerly anticipated his arrival.
ěI was so comfortable over there, but Minnesota makes me feel comfortable too,î Rubio said. ě(The Timberwolves) supported me, they were happy about my things, my winnings, in Barcelona, and I was like, oh, they want me over there. I feel that love over there. I want to give back that love.î
The Timberwolves drafted Rubio in 2009 with the fifth overall pick, but a large buyout with his Spanish team at the time coupled with Rubioís desire to stay home and work on his game kept him from immediately heading to the NBA.
It was a delicate negotiation at times, and president of basketball operations David Kahn, assistant GM Tony Ronzone, European scout Pete Philo and coach Kurt Rambis all chipped in to show Rubio and his family that coming to small-market Minnesota and playing for the struggling Timberwolves was the right move.
ěYeah, I feel like they really want me,î Rubio said. ěIt giving me confidence to play over here, play for them. It helped me a lot. Iím so glad those guys are working over here with the Timberwolves because they are really good (people) and I felt like Iím at home.î
CHARLOTTE ó Charlotte Bobcats forward Boris Diaw has exercised his player option for next season that will pay him $9 million.
Agent Doug Neustadt said Tuesday they informed the Bobcats of the decision earlier this week.
Diaw said after the season that with the potential labor uncertainty this summer, it was a “no-brainer” to pick up the option and avoid becoming a free agent until 2012.
The 29-year-old Diaw averaged 11.3 point and 5 rebounds last season.
NEW YORK ó Saying it reflects a “desire to go as far as we can to avoid a lockout,” NBA Commissioner David Stern revealed Tuesday that owners have moved off their insistence on a hard salary cap.
Players don’t see it that way.
So it appears the cap system remains as the biggest obstacle to a new collective bargaining agreement before the rapidly approaching June 30 deadline.
DALLAS ó Dirk Nowitzki is considering joining the German national team this summer to help their chances of qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Germany must finish among the top six of the 24 teams at the EuroBasket tournament to be eligible to qualify for the next Olympics.
TORONTO ó Dwane Casey hopes to bring a rugged, NHL-style of defense to his newest job in the NBA.
The Toronto Raptors hired Casey as their coach on Tuesday, nine days after the Dallas assistant helped the Mavericks win the championship.
INDIANAPOLIS ó It’s starting to sound like a mere formality that Frank Vogel will become the Indiana Pacers’ next head coach.
President Larry Bird spoke on Tuesday as though it is just a matter of dealing with a few final details.
PHOENIX ó The Phoenix Suns are part of the Jimmer Fredette buzz if the dynamic BYU scorer extraordinaire is available at the No. 13 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.