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Cavaliers: Ricky Rubio out for season with torn ACL

Ricky Rubio in Cleveland Cavaliers v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 28: Ricky Rubio #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds his left knee after sustaining an injury during the fourth quarter of a NBA game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on December 28, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The New Orleans Pelicans won the game 108 - 104. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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Ricky Rubio was reportedly unhappy about getting traded to the Cavaliers, played his heart out for Cleveland anyway and earned a lot of respect in the process.

But this feel-good story has taken a negative turn.


Rubio has been key to the Cavaliers’ surprisingly strong start. The savvy veteran has helped with his passing, perimeter defense and opportunistic shooting.

The Cavs essentially used Rubio in two roles – with starting point guard Darius Garland and behind Garland. Rubio will be sorely missed in both.

Cleveland dominated when Garland and Rubio shared the the backcourt (+16.1 points per 100 possessions).

The Cavaliers can start Isaac Okoro, who won’t recreate the chemistry Garland had with Rubio but won’t step on the toes of the other starters. However, that’d put significantly more playmaking responsibility on Garland. At least Garland looks increasingly capable in his third season.

The Cavs also kept their head above water when Rubio played without Garland (+1.3 points per 100 possessions). Those minutes will be difficult to replace. Cleveland’s guard depth has really taken a hit with Collin Sexton out with his own season-ending knee injury and now Rubio going down. The Cavaliers have played just 87 minutes without Garland, Rubio and Collin Sexton – getting outscored by 13.2 points per 100 possessions. Third point guard Kevin Pangos is in line for a promotion.

Ben Simmons is an external option if the Cavs want to think big. Simply maintaining cohesion is no longer an option.

Rubio tore the same ACL in 2012. This is a rough way for the 31-year-old to enter unrestricted free agency this summer.

Especially because he looked so good before getting hurt.