The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly making a concerted effort to convince veteran Ricky Rubio to play for his native Spain in this summer’s FIBA World Cup.
Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com noted that getting Rubio back on the court during the offseason may help him regain his past form and wipe away his disappointing comeback from a second ACL tear.
“Sources tell cleveland.com the Cavs are urging Rubio to play for Spain at the FIBA Basketball World Cup — an ultra-competitive environment that could be a launchpad into a bounce-back 2023-24 campaign,” wrote Fedor. “But Rubio is still undecided about that — even though he understands the benefits of playing on that summer stage compared to run-of-the-mill workouts.”
The 32-year-old Rubio was acquired in 2021 by the Cavaliers and showed himself to be an effective option off the bench in his first 34 games with the team.
That option disappeared when Rubio went down with a season-ending ACL tear, which kept him off the court for just over a year. When he returned for 33 regular season games this season, his drop in production was noticeable.
During the Cavaliers’ brief five-game playoff series against the New York Knicks this season, Rubio was used sparingly, seeing just 17 minutes of action. He recorded just three assists and committed five turnovers and five fouls.
Rubio’s entry into the NBA was delayed a bit after being chosen as the fifth overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft. That wait turned out to be worth it for the Minnesota Timberwolves, with Rubio delivering in all facets of the game.
Rubio’s injury last season actually led the Cavaliers to include him in a deal for Caris Levert, with the team re-signing him last July.
The Cavaliers know that an older Rubio isn’t likely to deliver the type of numbers he did during his prime years. However, if he can return to the same level of production he offered prior to his injury last season, that would likely be good enough for the team.
Doing so would at least bolster a bench that badly needs an upgrade after the quick postseason exit. On a competitive international stage, Rubio could once again get comfortable enough to hit the ground running when training camp gets underway later this year.
Rubio turns 33 on Oct. 21. While Rubio surely won’t be the oldest player in the league at that point, he’ll be at an age that could make the end of his career come sooner than expected if he can’t come back.