MINNEAPOLIS — When Ricky Rubio told the Minnesota Timberwolves he was planning on staying in Spain for at least the next two years, word quickly spread to restricted free agent Ramon Sessions.
His agent, James Wells, called Sessions and told his client they should consider contacting Minnesota to see if there was any interest in bringing the 23-year-old point guard in as a replacement.
Sessions quickly agreed, but Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn was even faster on the dial.
"When I found out he wasn't coming over, me and my agent talked about it, and not five hours later (the Timberwolves) were calling," Sessions said Tuesday. "It was the best situation for me and I'm happy to be here."
Sessions signed a four-year, $16 million offer sheet with the Wolves. When the Milwaukee Bucks declined to match the offer Friday, Sessions packed his bags for Minnesota, where he will join rookie point guard Jonny Flynn in a young Timberwolves backcourt.
"Clearly if Ricky would have come, there wouldn't have been an opportunity to add Ramon," Kahn said at Sessions' introductory press conference. "We would have been filled up in the backcourt and there wouldn't have been enough playing time for somebody of Ramon's caliber to join us.
"When Ricky made his decision that he wanted to spend another two years over there, within in the next 36 hours is when we did decide to move forward with Ramon."
The Timberwolves selected the 18-year-old Rubio with the fifth overall pick in June, then commenced on a summer-long dance with him, his agents and the Spanish pro team that still had him under contract.
Kahn made three trips to Spain in hopes of negotiating a deal to bring the precocious passer to the United States. He reached an agreement with DKV Joventut at the end of August. But Rubio backed out less than 48 hours later, telling Kahn he preferred to stay in Spain for at least the next two years to get more ready for the NBA and reduce the amount of a multimillion dollar buyout in his contract.
Without Rubio, the Timberwolves needed another point guard to take some of the burden off of Flynn, the sixth overall pick in the draft.
Sessions, who averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 assists for the Bucks last season, talked earlier in the summer with the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers. But he never received an offer from either team and was starting to get a little antsy with training camps opening in less than a month.
"It was a long, crazy period for me and I wound up losing a lot of sleep over this," Sessions said.
In Minnesota, the 6-foot-3 Sessions will play the point guard position he's played his entire life, but also will move to shooting guard on occasion and pair with Flynn in a small, but dynamic, backcourt.
"In the times that they do play together it's going to be pretty fun to watch because of their ability of both of them to create for other people, to get inside the lane, either to draw a foul or find a teammate," Kahn said.
Sessions got plenty of time at shooting guard last season after Olympian Michael Redd went down with a knee injury. He topped 20 points 11 times in 79 games, including a 44-point, 12-assist game against Detroit on Feb. 7.
"This past year was really my first year playing off the ball and I felt really comfortable with it," Sessions said. "With Michael Redd going down in Milwaukee, that gave me the opportunity to show that I can off the ball a little bit so I'm definitely looking forward to that challenge."
Kahn has said time and again all summer long that the rebuilding Timberwolves are probably a year or two away from being competitive in the Western Conference playoff race. But he also said that adding Sessions, instead of Rubio, will help them more in the short term.
"I think that Ramon is clearly more capable of helping us right now than Ricky would have been because of where he is in his development stage," Kahn said. "In a weird way, the team became more mature and improved with this move in particular."
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