Basketball

Ricky Rubio trade a boon for Cavaliers but adds flexibility for Timberwolves


Hasn’t Ricky Rubio suffered enough? His reward from escaping two tours in Minnesota and leaving Phoenix right before they got good is getting traded to Cleveland?

In a trade leaked Thursday that may not be consummated immediately, the Cavaliers sent a 2022 second-rounder (it’s Washington’s, not Cleveland’s, so peg it in the 40s) and cash to Minnesota in order to turn little-used forward Taurean Prince into Rubio.

Rubio immediately becomes the best defender on the Cavaliers by several orders of magnitude, but he finds himself in a backcourt crowded with other recent high-profile acquisitions. Also, much like in Minnesota, he’s back on a team that likely will be near the bottom of the standings. Rubio is playing for Spain in the Olympics right now; one imagines him waking up in Tokyo, looking at his phone and figuring out how he can just rent a place in Shinjuku until his contract ends.

For now, anyway, the Cavaliers backcourt is a triumvirate of Rubio, Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, although rumors about Sexton’s trade availability have been circulating of late and the Cavs have reportedly been active in other trade realms, too. If Cleveland stands pat, one surmises there’s a decent chance Rubio starts with one of the two and the other comes off the bench, which would limit some of the perimeter carnage suffered a year ago by the league’s 25th-ranked defense.

On the surface, it’s weird for a team deep in rebuild mode to trade for a veteran guard, but on strict value, this is a pretty sweet trade for Cleveland. Rubio has an expiring deal for $17 million but is worth the money (BORD$ has him at $18.9 million for this season, despite his shooting woes, because his defense is so valuable). To the extent Cleveland intends to actually try to win this season, he’ll definitely help.

Moreover, there is option value here.





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