Ricky Rubio ends NBA career; Cavs agree to buyout, sources say

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After stepping away from the franchise to address his mental health, guard Ricky Rubio announced Thursday that he is ending his 12-year NBA career.

Rubio, 33, addressed his decision in a post on social media, writing that July 30 — shortly before he first put his playing career on hold — “was one of the toughest nights of my life” but adding that he is doing better.

“One day, when the time is right, I would love to share my full experience with you all so I can help support others going through similar situations. Until then, I would like to keep it private out of respect for my family and myself, as I’m still working on my mental health,” Rubio wrote. “But I’m proud to say I’m doing much better and getting better everyday.”

Sources told ESPN on Thursday that Rubio and the Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed on a contract buyout. The move, which covers the $6.1 million left on this year’s contract and $6.4 million for 2024-25, gives the Cavaliers some financial relief and opens up a second spot on the team’s roster.

Rubio thanked all the teams he had played for in the NBA — the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Cavaliers — but included particular praise for Cleveland.

“My last home,” Rubio wrote. “I know the way things ended have been tough. I could never have imagined the year would develop this way, but you have an amazing organization, with [president of basketball operations] Koby [Altman] and [coach] JB [Bickerstaff], who have been extremely respectful and understanding of my situation and caring for me as a person.”

If Rubio continues his professional career, it will likely be where he started as a 14-year-old prodigy — in his native Spain.

Over the summer, Rubio had his agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management, alert Altman about his need to step away to address those mental health issues. The Cavaliers had accommodated Rubio, but discussions shifted in recent weeks to a buyout as it became clearer that Rubio did not anticipate playing for the Cavaliers — or even in the NBA — again, sources said.

Rubio missed most of the past two seasons recovering from a torn ACL — the second of his career. He played 33 games last season, joining the team at midseason and averaging 5.2 points and 3.5 assists per game.

He played professional basketball as a teenager in Spain, where he became the youngest player in the history of the prestigious Spanish ACB League at 14 years old. Rubio was the fifth pick in the 2009 NBA draft, by the Timberwolves, and he played for Minnesota the first six years of his career.

The Timberwolves congratulated Rubio following his announcement, saying “Thank you for everything” in a social media post.

For his career, Rubio averaged 10.8 points and 7.4 assists per game, and he built a reputation as one of the favorite teammates of several star players, including Kevin Love and Donovan Mitchell.

First appeared on www.espn.com

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