Is Jerome ready to step up for Cavs while Rubio is stepping away?

Ty Jerome, Golden State Warriors. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Ty Jerome, Golden State Warriors. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Throughout his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s been clear that Ricky Rubio has had a lasting effect on players such as Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and a litony of other players. Rubio’s on and off-court leadership has been invaluable for Cleveland over the course of the last two seasons, and his presence has been huge for the Cavaliers in their turnaround in that time.

Rubio did not have a great season on the floor last year in his return from a torn ACL from December of 2021, and expectations had to be tempered for him last year, anyway. Although with Rubio previously set to play for Team Spain in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball set to begin later this month, there was reason to believe the veteran playmaker could establish more of a rhythm ahead of next season, and bounce back in 2023-24 with Cleveland.

A bounce-back is still a possible for Rubio, but it’s uncertain what the future might hold for him with the Cavaliers, and in the game of basketball now. Rubio has been playing pro basketball since he was 15 back in his native Spain, and it’s safe to say, he’s had quite an extensive career at this point; Rubio will turn 33 in October.

At this juncture, Rubio wants some time to assess where he’s at regarding the game. In a statement released on Saturday via FEB, he stated how he decided to stop professional activities to focus on his mental health. Some more of the gist/reaction was listed below, via Sportando.

Rubio, who was the MVP of the last FIBA World Cup of Basketball back in 2019 in Beijing, has long been a star international when playing with Spain. Granted, based off of last season, and the injury, which was his second ACL tear in that same left knee in his career, he probably wouldn’t have had nearly the role he had in the prior World Cup, or back in the Tokyo Olympics, but he still would be a key piece.

For Rubio, though, we wish him the best of luck at this time. In his statement, he thanked the Spanish National Team and hinted at how family is such a big priority for him at this stage in his life.

He’s been such a terrific leadership presence at seemingly all of his NBA stops, and with that in mind, and his passing wizardry, it was understandable why the Cavs brought him back last offseason in free agency, for help down the road. He currently has two years left on his deal with Cleveland.

Once again, we wish Ricky nothing but the best at this time. He’s had a great NBA and basketball career, and seems to be an even person.

For the Cavs, the next step has to be about how they move forward then.

With Rubio stepping away, at least for now, one offseason signing seems set for a bigger and more set role in the rotation, in Ty Jerome.

Is Jerome ready to step up for the Cavs while Rubio is stepping away?

Jerome was signed via two-year, $5 million deal in free agency, and while he’s not a player that has the passing instincts of Rubio, nor necessarily the precision, Jerome can help Cleveland as a meaningful ball-mover for stretches.

He won’t blow people away the way Rubio at times can as a passer, but can operate well in set offense, make sensible skip feeds to other shooters, he can hit some quality lead passes to hustling cutters, and he’s a solid pick-and-roll decision-maker. Operating as a pseudo lead guard in Cleveland’s rotation, or at least a suitable combo guard that can help Darius Garland/Donovan Mitchell, Jerome should be fine for stretches.

Even on a two-way deal with the Golden State Warriors last season, he did solid work for them. In his 18.1 minutes per appearance, he had a 3.0-0.7 assist-to-turnover ratio in 45 appearances, and in the two seasons prior with the Oklahoma City Thunder, had 2.3 and 3.6 assists per outing off the bench, with him having a larger role in 2020-21.

Jerome is not nearly the passer of Rubio, as we mentioned, however, he is probably as capable defensively at this stage, given Rubio’s injury history and him getting up there in age, and Jerome is a much better shooter. That could come in handy for Cleveland’s bench, too, especially.

Jerome hit 38.9 percent of his three-point attempts with Golden State last season, and despite his deep shooting clip being only 29.0 percent in his 2021-22, that was 42.3 in 2020-21 with OKC. Jerome is a more than capable shooter from deep off of ball-swings, and on-ball, he can manipulate matchups to get to mid-range looks and floaters in pick-and-roll, and is crafty in those areas.

Jerome is not going to be an advantage creator, per se, but he’ll make enough plays to be viable offensively for stretches, and with him being a respectable shooter from range, he could help Cleveland’s slashers and mesh well with them in the process.

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So overall, yes. The 26-year-old Jerome should be ready to step up for Cleveland while Rubio is stepping away.