Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rubio's NBA season over and likely out of Olympics

Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio's season for the Minnesota Timberwolves is over and he will likely miss the London Olympics after suffering a torn left knee ligament, according to the NBA club.

The 21-year-old rookie standout suffered the torn anterior-cruciate ligament on Friday in a 105-102 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the T-Wolves' 18th loss in a row to the Lakers.

With recovery time from such injuries typically six to nine months, the injury almost certainly dooms his hopes of playing for Spain in July at the London Olympics, a major setback for a strong Spanish side filled with NBA talent.

There was more potential bad news for Spain later Saturday, when Spanish international and Toronto Raptors guard Jose Calderon had to be helped off the court with a sprained right ankle in a loss at Detroit.

The Raptors said X-rays on Calderon's ankle were negative but it was unclear if he would play Sunday against Milwaukee.

Calderon and Rubio shared the point guard duties at the European championships last summer. And before his own game -- and injury -- Calderon was holding out hope that Rubio would recover in time for the Olympics.

"We don't know what is going to happen. We don't know how long he is going to be out," Calderon said. "It's tough news for us. It's family. It's not the time to talk about who will be there in his place. We'll see what happens in June or July."

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said he knew Rubio would do whatever he could to speed his recovery.

"I feel for him with the summer coming up," Adelman said. "If anybody can do everything he can do to get back where he was, he will."

Rubio moved to help defend Lakers star Kobe Bryant in the final seconds and the Spaniard's left knee buckled just before he and Bryant collided. Rubio was called for a foul and Bryant sank game-winning free throws.

Rubio was helped into the locker room by teammates and walked out of the arena with the help of a friend, taking with him much of the energy that had given Timberwolves fans hopes of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

"He does so many things for us," Adelman said. "He gives us a lot of intangibles."

Rubio was averaging 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game for Minnesota.

At 21-20, the T-Wolves rank ninth in the Western Conference, one loss behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West.

Minnesota fans waited for Rubio for years after he was drafted as a teen prodigy but opted to stay in Spain and hone his talents. He became the youngest Spanish league player in history at age 14.

Now the Timberwolves must consider making a deal before Tuesday's trade deadline to help them the rest of the way this season.

"We haven't even sat down and talked about it," Adelman said. "It's still kind of a shock for everybody."

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