The Indiana Pacers have a void to fill at point guard, and Ricky Rubio is expected to fill it quickly once free agency opens.
In recent days multiple reports have tied the Indiana Pacers to free agent point guard Ricky Rubio. Ahead of NBA free agency officially opening Sunday evening, Marc Stein of the New York Times has tabbed Rubio to the Pacers as a “virtual done deal” come 6 p.m. Eastern time Sunday.
Indiana had been rumored to have interest in trading for Mike Conley before he was dealt to the Utah Jazz. The surprising retirement of Darren Collison on Friday night has left them looking even thinner at the point, to say nothing of being without Victor Oladipo into next season as he works his way back from a torn quad tendon in his right knee.
Rubio had a decent season for the Jazz in 2018-19, averaging 12.7 points, 6.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game over 68 games. But he also continued to be lackluster as a shooter, converting just 40.4 percent from the floor and 31.1 percent from 3-point range.
The return to Jazz as he prepared to hit unrestricted free agency was not in the cards for Rubio, as he said the team told him he was not a priority during an interview early this month. The team’s trade for Conley sealed that fate.
Rubio does not fit well in the modern NBA as a point guard who can be a threat from the perimeter, though his volume from beyond the arc has gone up (3.5 attempts per game in 2017-18; 3.7 attempts per game last year). But his vision and instincts as a passer are virtually unrivaled, and he has long been underappreciated on the defensive end of the floor.
The Pacers have plenty of cap space to be active in free agency, so signing Rubio surely won’t be their only notable move. But getting his commitment, and as early as it may come, will fill their biggest need.