The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without guard Ricky Rubio for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Rubio suffered the scary injury in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, in which the Cavaliers lost, 108-104. Cleveland never recovered from losing their veteran point guard.
Darius Garland had just been added to the COVID-19 list, meaning Rubio had no choice but to step into the starting lineup. Serving as a sixth man of sorts, Rubio has been excellent this season. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has even called Rubio “a starter who doesn’t start.”
Sitting in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers don’t have too many options at this point — they must find an optimal replacement, especially with Garland on the COVID-19 list and Collin Sexton injured.
Ricky Rubio injury: Any replacements on the roster already?
While not traditionally a primary ball-handler, Denzel Valentine can create his own shot. Valentine might’ve saved his roster spot in his last performance — a blowout win over the Raptors — by shooting 6-of-11 from the field. The Cavaliers will need Valentine now more than ever to expand his horizons as a primary ball-handler and to score on his own account.
The following is from King James Gospel’s Josh Cornelissen:
“Valentine is a decent ball-handler and can serve as something of a big point guard in bench lineups. Pairing him with Kevin Love and Evan Mobley would give the team three decent passers to cobble together playmaking duties with bench units.”
Valentine isn’t going to suddenly transform into an All-Star, but for the time being, he’s the best the Cavaliers can do.
Now, for the more long-term replacements.