Cavs’ Ricky Rubio out for rest of year; backup PG is question mark again

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio (#3) is helped off the floor by teammates. (Photo by Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio (#3) is helped off the floor by teammates. (Photo by Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) /

I’ve been more than satisfied with what Ricky Rubio has provided for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, in which he’s had 13.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per outing in a mostly supersub-type role for the team.

In the offseason, I was pumped that the Cavaliers acquired Rubio via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and although he reportedly was not exactly thrilled about it initially, Rubio quickly ended up seeming to be fully bought-in with Cleveland. The Cavs have surprised everybody this season it appears, and the likes of Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen have been playing like All-Stars.

But circling back to Rubio, regardless of Collin Sexton being out for the season as of early November, it was apparent that Rubio would still have a crucial role. That was to help out Garland from a backup 1 perspective, and Rubio at times with him has enabled Garland to play off-ball some, allowing him to be a catch-and-shoot and/or movement shooter.

Nonetheless, it seems as if the Cavs will no longer have that luxury much, as Rubio reportedly tore the ACL to his left knee, the same ACL he tore from back in 2012, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. And although they have Kevin Pangos, from a depth perspective, Cleveland shouldn’t be expecting much there.

This Rubio news is still crushing, even while after him being clearly it seemed seriously injured late in Cleveland’s loss at the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, just eventually appeared to be a formality, many were waiting for that to come on Wednesday. And now, the backup point guard question mark is there once again, at least at the moment.

The Cavs backup point guard question mark looks to be back with Rubio out for the season now.

Rubio meant so much to this Cavaliers team, seemingly on and off the floor, and truly gave the squad a jolt in his minutes-share. It’s tough to replace his sort of vision and creativity as a primary playmaker, and Rubio, while streaky, did come up with some big shots in games.

Unfortunately, much like last season and the year prior with Matthew Dellavedova so often sidelined due to injuries, the backup point guard position looks to be much more of a question mark than one would’ve thought after the Rubio offseason trade acquisition.

The Cavs again have Kevin Pangos, who I’d expect to help a bit, and had success overseas as a facilitator and catch-and-shoot player, and perhaps he can provide some pick-and-roll viability, particularly when Jarrett Allen is back from health and safety protocols. As our own Josh Cornelissen alluded to, though, the Cavaliers can’t be expecting a lot from Pangos, when Darius Garland is back from protocols or in the near term.

I’d expect secondary playmakers such as Evan Mobley, Kevin Love and when he’s back from protocols, Cedi Osman, to help in that regard, and one would imagine Cleveland looks into a veteran such as Kris Dunn, Jeff Teague and/or others via the league’s altered hardship exception rules and we’d have to see from there. I can’t say I expect recent reported 10-day hardship exception signing Malik Newman to bring much in that realm; he’s more of a spot minutes slasher/pull-up player anyway.

Maybe other potential reserve point guard targets via smaller trade come about as an alternative in coming weeks? We’ll again be on the lookout for that, and regarding a potential Disabled Player Exception addition, these were relevant points from ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

In the near term, this Rubio news really stinks, and while I’d have been on-board with a potential extension for the currently-expiring Rubio, I’m not sure now with this latest ACL injury, considering the history from 2012. And the veteran will be heading into his age-32 season next year.

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Hopefully Ricky makes a full recovery in time; this has to be so tough for him, and I know his teammates hate to see this happen. Thanks for killing it, Rick; no matter what happens, I’ll always be a fan of yours.