Ricky Rubio is no longer a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to break the news that Ricky Rubio and the Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to a contract buyout. Rubio, 33, has been away from the team since this summer for mental health reasons.
In a statement he provided via X, Rubio thanked the city of Cleveland and officially retired from the NBA:
Ricky Rubio did not want to be traded to the Cavaliers in the first place, as reported on by Brian Windhorst when he was first traded back in 2021. The Cavs acquired him to be their backup point guard and to mentor Darius Garland.
Ricky Rubio made a big impact on the Cavaliers
Mission accomplished on both fronts, at least for a while. Garland blossomed into an All-Star level player, while Rubio was a strong candidate for Sixth Man of the Year and was a crucial reason why the Cavs took a big step forward, winning 44 games a year after winning 22. He was shooting the ball confidently, spraying passes around to set up teammates perfectly, and giving the young Cavaliers a calm hand at the tiller.
Unfortunately for both Rubio and the Cavs, he then suffered a torn ACL that kept him out for over a calendar year. Cleveland used his salary to bring back Caris LeVert in a trade, then signed Rubio to a deal the following summer to return; this time it was Rubio's choice, and he chose the Cavaliers.
Rubio struggled in coming back from that knee injury, and revealed that he struggled both physically and emotionally during his rehabilitation and the reality that his body was not the same as it was prior to the injury. This summer he stepped away from basketball, missing both the World Cup and the start to the 2023-24 NBA season.
Rubio has been truly away from the team, communicating only with a few text messages over the past five months, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor. At some point, it became clear to Rubio and the Cavaliers that he was not coming back.
That was a bitter pill to swallow on multiple levels. The Cavaliers loved having Rubio on the team and it's sad to see him leave not just the Cavs but the NBA as well. More so, a healthy Rubio would have been exactly what the Cavs needed as they have dealt with a myriad of injuries this season.
The Cavs reportedly did their work looking for a trade partner for Rubio's contract, but they would have needed to attach assets to his contract. In the end, the two sides agreed to a contract buyout, that is supposed to give the Cavs back a "healthy amount" to give them the flexibility to sign another player.
Rubio had an exciting career
If this is the end for Rubio, he will retire as one of the most creative passers and overall fun players in the history of the league. He was a teenage phenom in Spain and enticed the Minnesota Timberwolves to take him over Stephen Curry. While he never quite delivered on that potential, he had a successful career in both the NBA and for Spain in national competition. While he never made an All-Star Game, he ranks fourth among active players in assists per game (7.4) and 23rd all-time in league history.
The Cavaliers now pivot to other options, whether that is signing a player in free agency or elevating undrafted rookie Craig Porter Jr. to a full contract. Depending on how much Rubio gives back, that will increase their thin margin under the luxury tax (currently around $750,000) and allow them flexibility in both trades and on the open market.
Ricky Rubio will be missed. By fans, by the Cavaliers, by his former teammates. We all hope that Rubio will soon come to a place that he can lace up his shoes once more and start slinging delightfully bold passes to his teammates on a basketball court once more.