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Ricky Rubio Takes A Break From Basketball

Cleveland Cavalier Guard Ricky Rubio
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio. David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

It was announced on Saturday that Ricky Rubio was taking a break from professional basketball in a statement from the Spanish Basketball Federation. While there is a chance that the message relates specifically to the Spanish National Team, the implication here is that he will also not be playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers for the foreseeable future.

Rubio will take a break of unknown length to care for his mental health. Rubio did not wish to disclose any further details. While the whole world and Back Sports Page wish Rubio a quick recovery (mental health is no joke), let’s take a look at the impact this will have on the Cavaliers.


Rubio’s Role

Rubio has had a rollercoaster tenure with the Cavaliers. He was fantastic in 2021, playing some of his best basketball in years. He was an excellent ball-handler off the bench, running the offense smoothly and actually showing up as a decent scorer. Unfortunately, he would go down with an ACL tear halfway into the season, and when he went down, a major hole opened in the offense. When Darius Garland would sit, there was no one who could come in and competently run the point. Rubio’s injury was cited as one of the reasons the Cavaliers failed to make the playoffs after a roaring start. 

In 2022 however, Rubio really struggled. The first year back from an ACL is tough on most players, especially as they get to Rubio’s age. Not only that, but he saw his role as a bench ball handler supplanted by the integration of Caris LeVert. He struggled in the little time he got, having lost a step, and he wasn’t an incredible athlete before. His greatest asset, his ability to run the offense, was also less necessary.

Following that trend, Rubio wasn’t slated to make much noise this season for the Cavaliers. LeVert is still on the team, and Rubio is another year older. At the same time, Rubio is now two years removed from his ACL tear. Usually, that is when players fully recover. In all likelihood, though, Rubio was not going to play a ton of minutes for the Cavaliers, making his absence a bit easier to swallow.


Next Man Up

Golden State Warriors guard <a rel=Ty Jerome (10) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) during the first half at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.” Kent Blaze / US TODAY Sports


As for who can replace Rubio, new signee Ty Jerome will probably get the first crack at subsuming Rubio’s minutes. Jerome has experience as a bench facilitator and will likely be called upon to share initiating duties with LeVert. He averaged three assists per game last year on just 18 minutes per game and was also efficient scoring in the few opportunities he got scoring seven points per game on nice 49/39/92% shooting splits. Jerome can find shooters and won’t bog down the offense with ball-stopping heroics which is perfect.

Craig Porter Jr, who showed a lot of promise during the Cavalier’s Summer League Championship run, is now in line for more minutes than before. Porter was signed to a two-way deal this summer and exhibited a well-rounded skill set. He led the summer Cavs in assists while also grabbing an impressive 7.3 rebounds from the point guard position. Porter also fits the Rubio role. With a similar skillset, Porter Jr. might see some real minutes this season. As opposed to the benchwarmer role and receiving just a few minutes in blowouts. 


Well Wishes

All in all, Rubio will be missed as a locker-room veteran presence and leader, even if not so much for his play. Then again, he could also be finally getting fully healthy after his 2021 ACL tear. Regardless, it’s good to know the team will not likely suffer too much without him. Rubio can take all the time he needs and not feel pressured to rush back.


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Patrick Yen is a contributor on Back Sports Page. He has written for NBC, SB Nation, and a few more websites in his four-year sports journalism career. He has been the Back Sports Page beat writer for the Philadelphia 76ers and now the Cleveland Cavaliers. Patrick, a graduate of the Ohio State University, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylv nia but moved to Columbus, Ohio, early in his life and has lived there ever since. You can find more of Patrick on Twitter @pyen117.

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