The Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans are anticipating the return of Ricky Rubio to the court.
It seems that the wait is about to end because the veteran point guard is reportedly looking to make his season debut shortly after the turn of the year.
“Ricky Rubio is targeting around the first of the year,” NBA insider Brian Windhorst said. “We’ll see how everything goes, but in the next few weeks, Rubio expected to come back from his ACL.”
The 32-year-old playmaker hasn’t played a game since tearing his left ACL in his 34th game of the 2021-22 campaign. He was playing for the Cavs at the time, providing depth in the backcourt while averaging 13.1 points and 6.6 assists per contest.
A little more than a month later, the team traded him to the Indiana Pacers in a deal that brought Caris LeVert to the Cavs. But because of his season-ending injury, the former lottery pick never saw action for the Pacers. Rubio then made a return to Cleveland by signing a three-year, $18 million contract with the organization this past offseason.
The Cavs have been patient, allowing Rubio sufficient time to recover from the devastating injury. However, according to renowned NBA reporter Marc J. Spears, the franchise is “ecstatic” to have him back in the rotation.
“My little bit of time around the Cavs, they are ecstatic about Rubio’s return,” Spears said. “He means much more to that franchise as a leader and as a guard coming off the bench than I think a lot of people know.”
Cleveland was one of the strongest teams in the East during the first few months of the 2021-22 campaign. Rubio’s play and leadership were major reasons why.
The Cavs were 20-13 before Rubio’s injury. They were able to raise their record to 35-21 in the middle of February. However, they lost 17 of their last 26 contests to slip in the standings.
Cleveland finished the regular season at 44-38, qualifying for a berth in the play-in tournament. But losses to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks in the play-in sent the Cavs packing without a playoff berth.
This season, the franchise appears set to end its playoff drought. The Cavs are 21-11 so far.
But the squad could still use some help at the backup point guard spot. With Rubio returning, some stability can finally be expected at the position.