Sources: Cavs’ Rubio eyes return after year out

After a full year of rehabilitating an ACL tear in his left knee, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio is targeting a return against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, sources told ESPN.

Rubio will practice Wednesday, and if all goes well, he will play in Portland on Thursday, the sources said.

The Cavaliers — 26-16 and fifth in the Eastern Conference — are anxious to make Rubio a part of the team’s guard rotation with All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. Rubio had been a vital part of the Cavaliers’ resurgence a year ago, averaging 13.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds before suffering an ACL tear on Dec. 28, 2021.

Rubio, 32, was traded to the Indiana Pacers at the trade deadline and re-signed with the Cavaliers as a free agent this past summer.

In addition to his substantial playmaking ability, Rubio is considered one of the most popular teammates in the league, and his return to the active roster has been highly anticipated within the Cavaliers. With the addition of Mitchell — a close friend of his with the Utah Jazz — Rubio returns to a different role but is expected to become part of coach JB Bickerstaff’s guard rotation.

With Rubio leading the way, the Cavaliers started 20-14 last season. Rubio will be starting his 12th season in the NBA, including stops with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jazz and Phoenix Suns. He has averaged 11.1 points and 7.6 assists in his career.

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