Minnesota Timberwolves’ guard Ricky Rubio will miss the rest of the NBA season due to a torn ACL in his left knee.

Rubio, who was a leading contender for Rookie of the Year after guiding the Timberwolves to a 21-20 record thus far went down in the closing seconds of their loss to the Los Angeles Lakers when he went to play help defence against Kobe Bryant. An MRI scan showed that Rubio tore a ligament in his left knee.

“I feel bad for Ricky having to miss the rest of this season,” Wolves president David Kahn said in a statement. “But Ricky is a competitor, and I am confident that he will work hard to get back on the court next year and continue his progression as one of the top point guards in our league.”

This is also a major setback for the Spanish national side, as Rubio is likely to miss out on the 2012 Olympics in London.

“Now is not the time for him to think about the Olympics or anything else,” Spanish team-mate and Lakers’ forward Pau Gasol said.

Several NBA stars including Kevin Love, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant and Derrick Williams have posted get well messages on their respective Twitter accounts.

Rubio had been getting negative press following his decision to join the Timberwolves after poor performances for Spain in the 2010 world championships and Eurobasket last summer in Lithuania, not to mention a sub-par season for Barcelona in the domestic Spanish league, but he has taken the NBA by storm, averaging 10 points and eight assists a game, and the floppy-haired Spanish wizard has been a major hit in Minnesota with sell-out crowds now a normal feature at the Target Center, following losing seasons.

With J.J. Barea also out injured, Timberwolves have had to call up Malcolm Lee from the D-League to help the team out as Luke Ridnour is the only player with any experience at the guard position.