Ricky Rubio

Cavs Notes: Davis, James, Rubio, Garland, Rotation

The Cavaliers‘ signing of Ed Davis on Wednesday came as a bit of a surprise, given the timing of the move and the fact that Cleveland already has a good amount of frontcourt depth. However, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff pushed for the addition of Davis, who is considered one of the NBA’s best locker-room presences and mentors.

Davis’ one-year, minimum-salary contract is non-guaranteed, per Fedor. However, the expectation is that the veteran center will be part of the Cavaliers’ 15-man roster to start the regular season.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Justin James, who also signed with the Cavs on Wednesday, will likely play in the team’s preseason finale on Friday and will get a chance to earn one of the team’s open two-way slots, says Fedor. If James doesn’t get a two-way contract, he could still become an affiliate player for the Cleveland Charge.
  • In another story for Cleveland.com, Fedor takes an in-depth look at how the Cavaliers acquired Ricky Rubio early in the offseason and what role they expect him to play in 2021/22. Although Rubio won’t be part of the starting five, Bickerstaff will be counting on him for starter-type minutes, and one member of the organization told Fedor that he thinks the Spaniard will work his way into Cleveland’s closing five.
  • Fedor adds in the same story that Rubio has taken starting point guard Darius Garland “under his wing.” The two guards, whose lockers are next to each other, talk daily and watch film together, writes Fedor.
  • After indicating earlier this month that he planned on a 10-man rotation for the regular season, Bickerstaff now thinks the Cavs’ regular rotation could include just nine players, tweets Fedor. Bickerstaff believes the versatility of Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen, along with his desire to have Rubio play starter minutes, reduces the need for a 10th regular.

Central Notes: Rubio, Sumner, Bucks, Jordan

Ricky Rubio knows he must take a leadership and mentoring role with the Cavaliers, as Kelsey Russo of The Athletic notes. Rubio was acquired from the Timberwolves to provide stability to the Cavs’ backcourt.

“I know Cleveland has a young roster,” Rubio said of the Cavaliers. “I’m probably not a good collaboration on that because I’m already in my 30s. But I think there’s a lot of talent. But that doesn’t make a good team. What makes a good team is putting the pieces together and make it work. So we will see how everything works out. And as a veteran, it’s part of my job to really make that work.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers guard Edmond Sumner is taking a positive approach in the aftermath of his devastating Achilles injury. Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files relays a social media post from Sumner which states in part, “Hit me at all at once like a train. Just adding to this crazy journey of mine.  … Victory comes through your adversity.”
  • The Bucks still have to figure out what they’ll do with the remaining spots on the roster, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. They also have to decide whether to carry 14 or a full 15-player roster. The other remaining mystery is which players will be first off the bench this coming season.
  • The Pistons’ dead money cap hits for DeAndre Jordan will be $7,875,533 in the upcoming season, instead of $9,881,598, and $7,827,907, instead of $9,821,842, in 2022/23, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets. Jordan gave up $4MM in his buyout agreement after being traded from the Nets and signed with the Lakers after clearing waivers.

Central Notes: Bulls, Markkanen, Rubio, Martin

The Bulls and their recently-departed backup power forward Lauri Markkanen should both be better off following the restricted free agent’s sign-and-trade agreement with the Cavaliers, contends Sam Smith of Bulls.com.

Given that retaining Markkanen in Chicago would almost certainly stir locker room drama this season, Smith notes that both sides seem poised to benefit from this fresh start. The Bulls were able to add back two new future draft picks and some salary cap flexibility with Derrick Jones Jr.s expiring contract.

Markkanen, meanwhile, will get to once again put up good numbers on a new lottery-bound Cavaliers team that should inflate his depreciated value around the league. Smith still sees potential All-Star upside in Markkanen, the seventh overall selection by the Bulls out of Arizona in the 2017 draft. Perhaps the seven-footer can reach his ceiling in Cleveland.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • There are some fascinating wrinkles to ponder now that Markkanen has joined the Cavaliers, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Russo takes a deep dive into the Markkanen deal and how it could impact Cleveland’s frontcourt rotations. The 24-year-old sharpshooting big man will help spread the floor, and could do well alongside ball-handlers Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. Evan Mobley, the third pick in the 2021 draft out of USC, should compete with Markkanen for starting power forward honors. Mobley will likely see more time at center now, too, behind newly-minted $100MM man Jarrett Allen. Injury-prone former All-Star power forward Kevin Love will most likely fall behind both Markkanen and Mobley in the rotation now.
  • Oft-traded new Cavaliers reserve point guard Ricky Rubio admitted that being dealt so frequently has proven frustrating, as he told Didac Piferrer of Marca (hat tip to Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops). “I am indeed a bit tired (of the trades), but I have been in the NBA for ten years now and I know how it works,” Rubio said. “At the end of the day, everyone tries to be ready to adapt to a new environment. You must be mentally prepared for his. But everything takes time.” Rubio was dealt from the Suns to the Thunder, then to the Timberwolves, during the 2020 offseason. He was subsequently sent to Cleveland during the 2021 offseason. Rubio, who is on the last season of a three-year, $51MM deal he inked with Phoenix in 2019, has also played for the Jazz during his ten-year NBA career.
  • The Cavaliers renounced their free agent exception rights to two-way point guard Jeremiah Martin when completing the Markkanen sign-and-trade, per RealGM. After Cleveland promoted power forward Lamar Stevens from a two-way deal to its 15-man roster in April 2021, the club added Martin on a two-way contract. He suited up for nine contests with the team for the 2020/21 season.

Central Notes: Bulls, Garza, Mobley, Rubio, Lowe

As our latest roster count notes, the Bulls only have 12 players on guaranteed contracts. Veteran free agent forwards Paul Millsap and James Ennis are some of the candidates to fill a couple of those open roster spots, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. LaMarcus AldridgeJarred Vanderbilt and Svi Mykhailiuk are three other free agents that the Bulls could c0nsider, Schaefer adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Despite a strong showing in summer league action, Pistons center Luka Garza is unlikely to get rotation minutes during his rookie campaign, Rod Beard of the Detroit News speculates. He might get more of an opportunity if Detroit, which has one too many guaranteed contracts, opts to waive Jahlil Okafor. There’s also a good chance Sekou Doumbouya will spend a chunk of time this upcoming season in the G League unless he shines in training camp, Beard writes.
  • The Cavaliers improved their talent pool this offseason in the estimation of Zach Harper of The Athletic. The addition of lottery pick Evan Mobley gives them a potential star at both ends of the floor, and the acquisition of Ricky Rubio provides much needed veteran leadership in the backcourt. However, they’re still a little thin depth-wise at the wing and forward spots, Harper notes.
  • The Cavaliers have officially added Sidney Lowe to J.B. Bickerstaff’s coaching staff, according to a team press release. The news that Lowe was leaving the Pistons’ staff to join their Central Division rival surfaced two weeks ago. “Sidney brings a wealth of coaching experience and familiarity to our staff,” Bickerstaff said. “He is a great teacher of the game and his ability to build lasting relationships across the board is integral to the growth of our overall culture here in Cleveland.”

Cavaliers Notes: Mobley, Rubio, Allen, Schedule

Evan Mobley appears to be the best candidate to start at power forward when the Cavaliers open their season, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. The No. 3 pick in this year’s draft showed during Summer League that he’s mobile enough to handle the power forward duties. The coaching staff is reluctant to use Mobley extensively at center until he adds more muscle, so he’ll probably play alongside Jarrett Allen, giving the team two seven-foot rim protectors on defense.

If Mobley is named the starter, that will mean bench roles for veterans Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. The Cavaliers have already spoken to Love about reducing his time on the court, and he talked last month about no longer being the No. 1 option who plays 35 minutes per night. Russo notes that Love, who still has two years and more than $60MM left on his contract, can still be valuable as a floor-spacer and rebounder.

Nance is coming off an injury-plagued season, but he started 27 of the 35 games he appeared in and averaged a career-high 31.2 minutes per night. He’s useful as a big man who can pass and defend, and he provides a veteran on-court presence for a very young team. Nance is also under contract for two more seasons, but only at a total of a little more than $20MM.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Newly-acquired Ricky Rubio will probably be used off the bench, as the starting backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland remains together, Russo adds. Rubio is expected to run the offense with the second unit and can defend either guard position.
  • Allen left a contending team when the Nets traded him to Cleveland in January, but he didn’t hesitate to re-sign with the Cavs this summer, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Allen’s new five-year, $100MM contract means he will be a long-term part of the rebuilding process. “Seeing a team like this, knowing what it takes, we have all the right guys and the right mindsets to do it,” he said. “So, I thought, ‘Hey, I’m willing to be part of this again, especially with these guys.’ I see a bright future here that I fit in perfectly.”
  • The new schedule that was announced Friday includes a tough early stretch that could set the tone for the Cavs’ entire season, Fedor notes in a separate story. Cleveland has one of the most difficult starts in the league, with eight of its first 11 games on the road and 11 of the first 12 against teams that were in the playoffs last season.

Timberwolves Trade Ricky Rubio To Cavaliers

AUGUST 3: The Timberwolves and Cavaliers have officially announced the trade in a pair of press releases.

The timing is curious, since the free agency moratorium is underway and trades can’t be formally completed during that time. However, the NBA’s official transactions log suggests the deal was finalized on Monday, presumably before the new league year began.

The announcement comes on the heels of Rubio racking up 38 points for the Spanish national team in a losing effort against Team USA on Tuesday.

JULY 29: The Timberwolves have agreed to trade Ricky Rubio to the Cavaliers in exchange for Taurean Prince, a 2022 second-round pick, and cash, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Wojnarowski’s original report stated that the second-round pick and cash were going from Minnesota to Cleveland, but according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link), the Wolves are actually acquiring those assets along with Prince.

Subsequent reporting confirms as much — Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets that the Cavs are sending $2.5MM to Minnesota as part of the deal, while Wojnarowski tweets that the pick changing hands is the Wizards’ 2022 second-rounder, which had been controlled by Cleveland.

It’s an interesting deal for the Cavaliers, who already have Darius Garland running the point and Collin Sexton acting as a secondary ball-handler. Giving up assets for Rubio doesn’t necessarily mean the Cavs have to move on from one of those players (likely Sexton), since the team needs depth at the point and was seeking a reliable veteran, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Still, that added depth would make it easier for Cleveland to move Sexton, who has been the subject of some trade rumors this month.

Rubio, who is currently representing Spain at the Tokyo Olympics, averaged a career-low 8.6 PPG for Minnesota in 2020/21 and shot just .388/.308/.867 in 68 games (26.1 MPG). However, the 30-year-old remains an effective play-maker (6.4 APG) and received praise for his leadership of the young Wolves.

The Timberwolves will create some extra financial flexibility below the luxury tax line as a result of this deal, as Rubio is on a $17.8MM expiring contract, while Prince is making $13MM in the last year of his contract. The team now projects to be about $5.4MM below the tax, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

It’s unclear if Minnesota intends to keep Prince, but the team was lacking in reliable forward depth this past season, so the former Baylor standout could help out there. He’s a career 37.0% three-point shooter and knocked down 40.0% of his attempts from beyond the arc for Brooklyn and Cleveland in 2020/21.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, J. Butler, Mudiay, Favors

The Timberwolves‘ second stint with former No. 5 overall pick Ricky Rubio wasn’t the fairy tale reunion either side hoped for, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic in a breakdown of the team’s trade with Cleveland and what it means for the Wolves moving forward.

While the Wolves are receiving solid three-and-D wing Taurean Prince as the return for Rubio, Krawczynski writes that Prince isn’t viewed as the solution to the team’s long-running search for a starting power forward, but rather as a rotation wing.

One benefit to the deal is an added $4.8MM in cap flexibility, which could allow the Wolves to use their entire taxpayer mid-level exception while possibly adding last year’s first round pick Leandro Bolmaro as well. Kracwzynski writes that the team explored trades into the draft and for Hawksforward Danilo Gallinari, but in the end were satisfied with the return of Prince.

We have more news from around the Northwest Division:

  • Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune details the Jazz‘s excitement upon trading down in the draft to land Baylor guard Jared Butler with the 40th pick, as well as two future second rounders. Butler, whom Utah was initially targeting in the first round, is viewed as someone who can play off the bench immediately, or even fill in should the Jazz lose Mike Conley to free agency.
  • Veteran point guard Emmanuel Mudiay will play for the Trail Blazers during Summer League, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The former No. 7 pick has bounced around the league since being traded from the team that drafted him, the Nuggets, to the Knicks in 2018, but the 25-year-old will be looking for a chance to get his career back on track with a strong showing in Las Vegas.
  • Derrick Favors was caught off-guard by the trade that will send him from the Jazz to the Thunder,writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. “Honestly, I’m still trying to process what happened,” Favors said. “It was tough to go to New Orleans, but I thought that there was a chance that I would come back to Utah. Now, I know this is it. So, there’s a lot to think about and a lot to work out.”

Trade Rumors: Rubio, Ball, Knicks, Wizards, Simmons

Ricky Rubio is busy playing the point for Spain in the Olympics but a number of NBA teams are doing due diligence on a potential trade for the veteran point man, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. The Celtics, Clippers and Lakers are keeping tabs on the Timberwolves guard. Rubio has a $17.8MM expiring contract for next season.

We have more trade chatter from around the league:

  • The Pelicans and Pacers discussed a Lonzo Ball deal, Ian Begley of SNY.TV reports, though it’s unknown if those talks ever reached an advanced level. Ball will be a free agent, so a deal would only be possible via sign-and-trade.
  • In the same piece, Begley writes that the Knicks plan to maintain enough cap flexibility to pursue top free agents in 2022, a class that could include Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal.
  • The Wizards have received calls on their best young players, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. Those players are presumably Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford and Deni Avdija. The front office could be motivated to move one or more of those players to appease Beal in a win-now scenario.
  • There’s been plenty of speculation about a potential Ben Simmons trade. The latest from Mark Medina of USA Today (Twitter link) is that the Sixers are looking either for an All-Star talent in return or a starting-caliber player along with multiple draft picks.

Point Guard Rumors: Paul, Conley, Lowry, Dinwiddie, More

After watching Chris Paul play a key role in turning the Suns into a legit title contender in 2020/21, teams around the NBA are weighing whether they might be able to replicate that success by adding a veteran guard such as Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, or Paul himself this summer, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Those three point guards will be free agents and will headline a talented group that also includes Lonzo Ball, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dennis Schröder, and Derrick Rose, among others.

According to both Windhorst and Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, there’s a belief around the NBA that the Jazz will be able to re-sign Conley this offseason, even if they have to shed some salary to comfortably do so. However, they’ll face competition for the point guard. Windhorst and Fischer identify the Mavericks as one team expected to be in the hunt for Conley.

As for Paul, he has indicated he’s prepared to turn down his $44MM+ player option for 2021/22, but it’s possible that’s a leverage play, writes Windhorst. If the Suns and Paul are interested in continuing their relationship, a scenario in which CP3 picks up his player option and then signs an extension at a lesser rate may be in both sides’ best interest. If Paul does opt out and seeks a new team, he’ll be limited by the Over-38 rule to a three-year contract.

Here are a few more notes on the point guard free agent market:

  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer confirms a Miami Herald report that stated Kyle Lowry is expected to be seeking a three-year, $90MM contract in free agency.
  • The Knicks will be among Lowry’s suitors and are willing to offer him somewhere between $20-30MM per year for two seasons, according to Pompey, who says that Spencer Dinwiddie and swingman Evan Fournier are among New York’s other potential targets. Dinwiddie is thought to be seeking $25MM annually, while Fournier is after $18MM per year, says Pompey. I’m skeptical that Dinwiddie, especially, will achieve that goal.
  • Dinwiddie is viewed as a likely Plan B for the Pelicans if they’re unable to land Lowry, according to Fischer. As Windhorst notes, current New Orleans GM Trajan Langdon previously worked in Brooklyn’s front office during Dinwiddie’s time with the Nets.
  • League executives believe the Pelicans are willing to let Lonzo Ball go if they find another option they like or if Ball receives an aggressive offer sheet, writes Windhorst.
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, who had success with Dennis Schröder in Oklahoma City, is thought to be interested in a potential reunion with the Lakers guard, according to Windhorst.
  • Timberwolves veteran Ricky Rubio is among the point guards whose names have been floated on the trade market so far, per Windhorst.

Timberwolves Notes: Draft, Simmons, Sikka

The Timberwolves have traded away their picks in this month’s draft but they’re still preparing as if they’ll wind up participating, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. They’re co-hosting pre-draft workouts this weekend with the Jazz.

“Just because we don’t have a pick on whatever day today is doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a pick on draft night,” team president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said. “The worst thing you can do is be caught unprepared and we’re fortunate we have players on our roster that are valued by other teams. We have opportunities to jump in the draft at very strategic levels and that’s a testament to our players, the value they have around the league.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Rumors surfaced late last month that the team would explore a trade with the Sixers for Ben Simmons. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic explores how Simmons might fit in and what it would take to bring him to Minnesota. The Timberwolves could match up salaries by including Ricky Rubio and Malik Beasley in a deal, but it’s likely Philadelphia would ask for D’Angelo Russell and/or future first-rounders, Krawczynski notes.
  • Robby Sikka has resigned from his position as the Wolves’ VP of basketball operations and wellness, Krawczynski writes in a separate story. Rosas hired Sikka two years ago to improve the team’s ability to stay healthy, revamp its player nutrition program and work with head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam to oversee the rehabilitation of injuries.
  • Forward Juan Hernangomez, who had been preparing to represent Spain in the Olympics, dislocated his left shoulder during an exhibition game and will miss the Tokyo games. Get the details here.