MINNEAPOLIS -- On the same day that he left for Spain to discuss Ricky Rubio's buyout with DKV Joventut, Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn traded the only veteran point guard he has on his roster.
Was Kahn clearing room for Rubio by sending Sebastian Telfair and forwards Mark Madsen and Craig Smith to the Los Angeles Clippers for Quentin Richardson?
"This is not a precursor of any sort," Kahn said Monday from New York shortly before he was scheduled to hop a flight across the Atlantic. "We have no feel yet as to whether Ricky will be joining us."
Rubio has a multimillion-dollar buyout of his contract with Joventut that threatens to keep him in Spain for another season, or possibly two. Kahn hopes to lower the number -- which could go as high as $6.6 million -- to make it easier for the 18-year-old point guard to join the Timberwolves this season.
The deal, which was first reported by YahooSports.com, also ends Minnesota's glut at power forward. Smith was a capable scorer off the bench for the Wolves, but he had trouble getting consistent playing time behind Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.
For the Clippers, Telfair is another play-making point guard behind Baron Davis. Smith can put points on the board quickly, while Madsen has shown the same hustle and chemistry in the locker room that he did when he played for the rival Lakers.
"We are really excited to add these three players to our team," Clippers general manager and coach Mike Dunleavy said. "This move really gives some much needed depth."
The Clippers thinned their ranks of big men by trading Randolph, leaving No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin, Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby and DeAndre Jordan to compete for playing time in the middle.
The deal gives the Clippers some options later, too. Madsen and Smith are in the final year of their contracts while Telfair has a player option for 2010-11 at a modest $2.7 million.
Richardson has one year remaining on his contract at $9.3 million and gives Minnesota a veteran presence at shooting guard that was not there after they traded Randy Foye and Mike Miller to Washington in June.
Rookie Wayne Ellington was the only true shooting guard on the roster before the Wolves acquired Richardson.
"I felt we needed to start addressing some of the roster imbalances that were created as part of the Wizards trade and this is a step toward that," Kahn said. "If we want to add another player, we now have a place to do that."
After selecting point guards Rubio and Jonny Flynn back-to-back in the first round of the NBA draft last month, Telfair's days with the Timberwolves appeared to be numbered.
"Because of how the point guard situation may evolve, and this doesn't have anything to do with Rubio per se, I sensed that playing time for Sebastian would wane over the next few years," Kahn said.
It had already started to wane for Madsen, whose hustle and geniality made him a fan favorite in six seasons in Minnesota, a place he said felt like home. He was a valued leader for a young team that is rebuilding.
"That's going to be the hardest thing, leaving the locker room," Madsen told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "There were some very, very special relationships that you'll always have. I'm definitely going to miss these guys as players and as people."
It won't be a totally new start for him. He'll be accompanied by two teammates to a city he knows well. Madsen spent the first three years of his career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers before signing with Minnesota in 2003.
"How do I feel about the trade???" Love tweeted. "Well ... We lost a lot of good men out there."
Smith, despite being undersized at 6-foot-6, averaged 10.1 points in less than 20 minutes a game last season. He grew up in Los Angeles, starring at Fairfax High School before leaving to play at Boston College.
Telfair averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 assists last season in the first year of a three-year extension. In Los Angeles, Telfair will serve as the quality backup to Baron Davis that the team lacked last season.
"I'm going going back back to Cali, Cali," Telfair posted on his Twitter account, referencing a popular hip-hop song. "Just got traded to clippers. I'm a little upset becuase (sic) I love Minnesota but I think I will be happy in LA also."
Richardson averaged 10.2 points and 4.4 rebounds last season for the New York Knicks. This is the third time the shooting guard has been traded this summer. He went from the Knicks to Memphis in a deal for Darko Milicic in June, then was shipped from the Grizzlies to the Clippers for Randolph last week.
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