Veteran guard Ricky Rubio suffered the second ACL injury of his career, prematurely ending his 2021 season.
The team clarified that Rubio will miss the remainder of the 2021-2022 NBA season due to the injury.
Rubio suffered the injury against the New Orleans Pelicans, late in the fourth quarter of their Dec. 28 game. He attempted to move around Pelicans guard Devonte Graham but quickly fell after planting his right foot. He quickly raised his hand, signaling that he was injured. Cleveland teammates Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro then helped Rubio off the court, with Rubio protecting that left leg.
Ricky Rubio was helped off the court after suffering an apparent injury on this play. pic.twitter.com/QuNciWZB2y
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 29, 2021
Rubio did not return to the game and Cleveland Clinic Sports Health confirmed the injury on Dec. 29. His injury came at an inopportune time, as Cleveland trailed New Orleans 99-97 with less than three minutes left in the game. Rubio was still the Cavaliers’ leading scorer for the game, with 27 points. He flirted with a triple-double against the Pelicans, with 13 rebounds and nine assists.
Rubio has been a key player for Cleveland, especially after Collin Sexton suffered a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 7. Rubio had logged 970 minutes for the Cavaliers, second on the team. Also, his 14.4 player efficiency rating ranks eighth on the team, according to Basketball-Reference. The 31-year-old was having one of the best scoring seasons in his career, averaging 16.5 points per 40 minutes played. The young and surging Cavaliers will miss his leadership and veteran presence. Cleveland currently ranks fifth in the Eastern Conference, with a 20-14 record. That win total nearly matches Clevland’s total wins in 2020, where they finished 22-50.
“I think this team is so close, so it’s like an extended family member goes down and it just pains you,” said Cleveland forward Kevin Love. “It just hurts to see anyone go down, but especially a guy like Ricky, who has been so consistent for us and brings so much to this team for so many different reasons.”
Rubio’s “status will be updated as appropriate”, according to the Cavaliers. He is a free agent after the 2021 season, where he was averaging 13.1 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds.