Ricky Rubio’s time with the Cleveland Cavaliers might be coming to an end.
In need of guard depth and an additional roster spot, the Cavs have begun discussing a parting of ways with Rubio, according to Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
“Rubio, 33, has been on permitted leave in Spain from the team since the summer as he manages his mental health and there are serious doubts about whether he ever plays again, league sources said,” Charania and Vardon wrote. “At minimum, Rubio is not expected back this season. Meanwhile, the Cavs are dealing with the extended absences of starting point guard Darius Garland (fractured jaw) for more than a month, and forward Evan Mobley (knee surgery) for possibly two months.”
Rubio is making $6.1 million this season, and he is set to make $6.4 million for the 2024-25 season. $4.25 million of his contract for next season is guaranteed. In this situation, the Cavs have a few different options that they could pursue.
Cleveland could include Rubio in a trade with a different team, or they could negotiate a buyout with the 33-year-old. They could also use a waive-and-stretch provision in order to waive him and spread the payments of his remaining salary over a longer period of time. It will be interesting to see what path the Cavs ultimately decide to take.
In August, Rubio announced that he would be putting his basketball career on hold in order to take care of his mental health. At the time, Rubio was preparing to play in the FIBA World Cup for the Spanish national team.
“I have decided to stop my professional activity to take care of my mental health,” Rubio said. “I want to thank all the support I have received from the (Spanish national) team to understand my decision,” Rubio said. “Today #family makes more sense than ever. Thank you. I would ask that my privacy be respected so that I can face these moments and be able to give more information when the time is right.”
Rubio was traded to Cleveland in August of 2021 in exchange for Taurean Prince and a 2022 second-round pick. He appeared in 67 games for the Cavaliers over the previous two seasons and averaged 9.2 points and 5.1 assists in 22.9 minutes per performance.
The veteran guard was excused from participating in training camp with the Cavaliers in October, and Cavs president of basketball operations Koby Altman didn’t offer an exact return date for him at that time. However, he did say that Rubio had the team’s support during his absence.
“He’s working to get himself right,” Altman said. “We give him that time and that runway to get himself healthy. We support him from afar and I think the thought process and hope is that he does return to Cleveland and the Cavaliers and helps us out this season. But we want to give him that time and that space to really get himself right.”
Rubio has had a long professional career. He was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009 and played for the team for six seasons before being traded to the Utah Jazz in 2017. He spent two seasons in Utah and then suited up for the Phoenix Suns and Timberwolves again before joining the Cavs in 2021.
Prior to his time in the NBA, Rubio played professionally in Spain.