Cavs’ Rubio to return after missing year with knee injury

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ricky Rubio is ready to resume his interrupted run with the Cavaliers.

More than a year after tearing a knee ligament and underdoing surgery, Rubio is expected to make his season debut Thursday night when Cleveland visits the Portland Trail Blazers.

The 32-year-old Rubio had a major impact in the Cavs’ turnaround last season before tearing his left anterior cruciate — for the second time in his career — while driving to the basket at New Orleans on Dec. 28, 2021.

Rubio practiced Wednesday in Utah and, as long as he doesn’t have any discomfort, he’ll play against the Trail Blazers. The Cavs are currently listing him as questionable on the pregame injury report.

The Cavs, who blew a late lead and lost to the Jazz on Tuesday night, are excited to have Rubio back in the rotation. His return will allow coach J.B. Bickerstaff to explore some new combinations while also trimming the minutes for All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland.

Rubio averaged 13.1 points and 6.6 assists in 34 games last season before getting hurt. Beyond his stats, he provided needed leadership for one of the NBA’s youngest teams and his arrival also brought out the best in forward Kevin Love, a former teammate in Minnesota.

Rubio will now be able to play with a former Utah teammate and close friend in Mitchell, who in his first season with the Cavs has moved them among the contenders in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavs traded Rubio at the deadline last year and then re-signed the popular guard as a free agent during the summer.

A core member of Spain’s national team, Rubio has also played for Phoenix. He first injured his left ACL as a rookie when he banged knees with Kobe Bryant.

Rubio has averaged 11.1 points and 7.6 assists in 11 seasons.

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