Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino joined the GoMN 100 Podcast to talk Gophers, Athlete's Village, putting recruits in the NBA, and more. But the conversation started with Pitino raving about the impact the Jimmy Butler trade will have on the Timberwolves.
"You're getting a guy who's a three-time All-Star," said Pitino. "I actually think that Ricky Rubio is extremely undervalued in the NBA, I think he's a really good player. And now you've got some really good weapons around him. With a good young core, obviously with KAT, Wiggins, and now Jimmy Butler – I think Gorgui is going to have a really good NBA career – I just think they've got a fun team. If you want to make the playoffs you've gotta have All-Stars. Two obviously would be great, three would be tremendous. They're now looking at potentially three All-Stars. That's how you win games."
Pitino expects that Butler, a three-time All-Defensive Team member, will finally bring veteran toughness to Minnesota.
"He'll force those guys to be held accountable on the defensive end of it," Pitino explained. "With a young team – and they're still young – to get a guy with some experience who's defended, showed toughness in this league is huge."
Rubio is the big winner in Pitino's eyes.
The big winner in the trade, according to Pitino, is Rubio.
"It's very obvious he's a wizard with the ball. He's a phenomenal passer, he makes the right play. If you put great players around him, there's no reason why he can't be a great point guard in this league and have a great career," Pitino said. "It's not a knock necessarily on the other guys that were there, but he just didn't have enough big time weapons around him.
"I just think he'll be much more appreciated now because he'll be in the right role. That's so important. You've got Andrew Wiggins on one wing, you've got Jimmy Butler on another... you've got KAT, you've got Gorgui... you've got guys he can get the ball to. The more weapons you have, the court's more wide open for other guys to flourish, and I think Ricky Rubio will have that opportunity now with a really good roster."