Timberwolves sign Ramon Sessions to offer sheet

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Timberwolves wasted little time moving on after being rebuffed by Ricky Rubio.

Two days after the 18-year-old point guard backed out of a deal to join the Timberwolves this season, Minnesota signed restricted free agent Ramon Sessions to an offer sheet Friday.

The Milwaukee Bucks will have seven days to match the four-year, $16 million offer.

Rubio's decision to stay in Spain for at least the next two seasons created a hole at point guard for Minnesota behind rookie Jonny Flynn from Syracuse.

Sessions averaged 12.4 points per game and 5.7 assists for the Bucks last season.

"We are excited about the opportunity to have Ramon Sessions on our team," Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said in a statement. "Ramon has the ability to play both guard positions, and thus will be able to complement the members of our current backcourt."

Kahn selected Rubio with the fifth pick in the draft in June. He spent all summer working with Rubio's agents to try and secure a buyout of his contract with DKV Joventut that would allow Rubio to play in the NBA this fall. The biggest sticking point was an $8 million buyout clause, and the Wolves were limited by NBA rules from paying more than $500,000 toward that number.

Last Saturday, Kahn, Joventut officials and Rubio's agents agreed upon a deal that would bring the popular passer to Minnesota. But less than 48 hours later, Rubio told Kahn that he wanted to stay in Spain to better prepare himself for the NBA and avoid have to pay more than $5 million out of his own pocket to buyout his contract.

So Joventut instead traded him to rival FC Barcelona, which signed him to a contract that will keep him in Europe for at least the next two seasons.

The Timberwolves hold Rubio's NBA rights for as long as he is playing professionally. Kahn has said that they are willing to wait for him, but a player of his talents also could fetch a nice package on the trade market if Rubio decides he does not want to play in Minnesota.

After Rubio backed out, Kahn said the team had to move on and the Sessions offer is it.

The 6-foot-3 Sessions was ninth in the NBA last season with a 2.97:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and would give the Wolves some depth in the backcourt that it sorely lacks. Kahn has reshaped the roster this summer, trading guards Mike Miller, Randy Foye, Sebastian Telfair and Quentin Richardson.

"At only 23, Ramon also has the potential to improve and fits our plan of building a young, up-tempo team with championship contending potential," Kahn said.

Flynn was the sixth overall pick in the draft and figures to be the starter when training camp opens. Kahn has indicated that veterans Chucky Atkins and Bobby Brown may not be with the team much longer.

That leaves rookie Wayne Ellington and veteran Damien Wilkins as the only other guards on the roster.

Sessions' versatility would help things, but there is still a lack of size on the perimeter for this young and rebuilding team.

Kahn has preached patience ever since he was hired in May, saying it may take two or three years to get the mess in Minnesota cleaned up. But he has been aggressive in making moves, both to help out the accountants and the coaches, as he tries to position the Wolves to be a player in the talent-rich 2010 free agent class.

"I also hope in some way that in the last three months, people can see that we've charted a new direction and that there's hope again," Kahn said Thursday. "It won't be too long, hopefully no longer than three or four years down the road where this will be a special place."


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