On Tuesday night Ricky Rubio knew something was seriously wrong as he went down grabbing his left knee during the 4th quarter of the Cavaliers/Pelicans game in New Orleans. He immediately waved to the Cavaliers bench for the medical staff and muttered a few words to Kevin Love. Love's immediate reaction and body language during the timeout hinted at the seriousness of the injury. On Wednesday it was confirmed that Rubio suffered a torn ACL in his left knee.
This is a huge blow to a surprise Cavaliers team who is off to a 20-14 start after winning only 22 games last season. Rubio was averaging 13.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game just missing a triple/double against the Pelicans on Tuesday.
Rubio has been a huge reason for the Cavaliers turnaround this season and has fit like a glove in coach J.B. Bickerstaff's system. He has also served as the perfect mentor to young point guard Darius Garland and has helped him elevate his game to an all-star level this season.
The question now becomes how can they best replace Rubio's production? The only other point guard besides Garland currently on the roster is Kevin Pangos who has not shown he is ready to play meaningful minutes. Is there a free agent that can help the Cavaliers or will GM Koby Altman be forced to make a trade to fill the need? Let's take a look at a few options:
Jeff Teague - Free Agent
Teague is a 12-year NBA veteran with postseason experience. The 33-year old has averaged 12.2 points and 5.6 assists for his career while shooting 36% from three. He last played for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020/21 averaging 6.6 points and 2.8 assists in 21 games. Teague can still hit the open three and run an offense from the point. This would be the cheapest route as he's only going to cost you a veterans minimum deal for the rest of the season.
Dennis Schroeder - Boston Celtics
Schroeder would be a major pickup as a replacement for Rubio. He is currently averaging 16.3 points and 4.7 assists in 32.3 minutes per game for the Celtics. Schroeder's game is the most similar to Rubio's style of play and he could fit in seamlessly with the Cavaliers. The question is would Boston be willing to move him to the Cavaliers and at what price? He is playing on an expiring 1-year deal worth $5.9 mil.
D.J. Augustine - Houston Rockets
Augustine is a 14-year veteran who has been a productive backup point guard for most of his career averaging 9.6 points and 4 assists while shooting 38% from three. This season with Houston he is filling a veteran mentor role for the young Rockets. in 14.9 minutes per game he is shooting 41.3% from deep. He should come cheap...maybe a 2nd round pick and salary fillers to match his $7 mil salary. He is also signed for 7.3 mil in 2022/23.
Goran Dragic - Toronto Raptors
The 35-year old Dragic has been a very productive player over his 14-year NBA career averaging 13.9 points and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 36% from three. The question is how much he has left in the tank. He has appeared in only 5 games this season for Toronto averaging 8 points in 18 minutes per game. It would be a costly move as the Cavaliers would have to make salaries work for his massive $19.4 mil expiring contract. They would almost certainly have to include Rubio's contract and a sweetener.
Ben Simmons - Philadelphia 76ers
The least likely and least popular among CAVS fans on social media is making a splash for 76ers all-star Ben Simmons. There is no doubt Simmons would make the Cavaliers defense even more lethal, but his offensive shortcomings would seem to hamper a team already missing their leading scorer considering what they would have to give up to acquire him. Simmons salary for this season is $33.0 mil. He is signed for three more seasons at $35.4 mil in 2022/23, $37.9 mil in 2023/24 and $40.3 mil in 2024/25. Cleveland would most likely have to get a third team involved while surrendering key rotation pieces and multiple 1st round draft picks.
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