Free agent Ricky Rubio is returning to the Cavs on a three-year deal worth $18.4 million, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported Friday, and it could benefit the Pacers.
The 31-year-old guard was traded to Indiana in February in a deal for Caris LeVert, but he never played for the Pacers due to a torn left ACL he sustained in December. Rubio was included in the trade because he had an expiring contract, matched salaries and created cap space for Indiana.
While not suited to Pacers, the veteran guard was still able to help them improve. When Rubio was first traded, Indiana also received the Cavs 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick. The Pacers lined up to receive that pick until Cleveland lost to Brooklyn and Atlanta in the Play-In Tournament and failed to make the playoffs, but the deal continues this season.
More: 5 Players Indiana Pacers Should Consider in Free Agency: Is Deandre Ayton Worth the Price?
So if Rubio, who is still rehabilitating his left knee, can get back into shape and help the Cavs make the playoffs, the Pacers would receive Cleveland’s 2023 lottery-protected first-round pick. Rubio averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 34 games last season while mentoring All-Star point guard Darius Garland. The Cavs were also nine points better per 100 possessions last year with Rubio on the field.
However, if Cleveland does not make the playoffs for the second year in a row, it would retain its lottery-protected first-round pick, and Indiana would receive the Cavs’ 2025 second-round pick and a 2026 second-round pick through the Lakers Cleveland currently owns.
The Cavs could also benefit from making this a sign-and-trade for salary cap reasons, by sending the Pacers a player in exchange for Rubio.
No transfers of free players can become official until July 6. The NBA’s moratorium came into effect on Thursday evening, which means that in principle agreements can be reached on contracts. Players and teams can still change their mind and cancel deals during this time.
Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Reach him by email: [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: NBA free agency 2022: Ricky Rubio’s return to Cavs could benefit Pacers