Guard Ricky Rubio says his NBA career is over. He stepped away from Cavs to work on mental health

Updated Jan. 4, 2024 7:51 p.m. ET

CLEVELAND (AP) — With uncommon vision on the basketball court, Ricky Rubio could make a basic pass look extraordinary.

A true playmaker, he made everyone around him better. Rubio was the same off the floor, a positive force for teammates, coaches and fans, who will certainly miss his presence.

After stepping away from his playing career — and the Cleveland Cavaliers — this season to address mental health issues that he's still working on, Rubio said Thursday that his NBA career is over after 12 seasons.

The 33-year-old Rubio, who has also had a distinguished international career playing with Spain, alluded to his recent struggles while adding that he's “doing much better and getting better every day.”


Rubio's announcement on X, formerly known as Twitter, came after he and the Cavs came to an agreement on a contract buyout. The team will get some financial relief from his $6.1 million this year and his $6.4 million deal for 2024-25.

“Ricky Rubio embodied everything a franchise would want from such an accomplished player, who helped instill a confidence and leadership quality that still resonates within our team,” said Koby Altman, the team's president of basketball operations. ”When you measure his impact, particularly during the 2021-22 season, Ricky was instrumental in our 22-win improvement that year.

"His willingness to mentor our younger players speaks to the gravity of his tenure in Cleveland and the success we are having with this current Cavaliers group. We wish Ricky nothing but the best and remain supportive of his decision to continue focusing on his mental health.”

Rubio has spent the past two seasons recovering from a torn knee ligament, an injury that was not only a personal blow but a major setback for a Cleveland team he had helped get turned around following consecutive 19-win seasons.

Rubio was limited to just 33 games last season, and had lost any explosiveness following his second ACL injury.

He didn't report to training camp this season, and Rubio posted on social media that “July 30th was one of the toughest nights of my life."

“My mind went to a dark place. I kind of knew I was going on that direction, but I've never thought I wasn't under control of the situation. The next day, I decided to stop my professional career."

Rubio said he hopes to share his experiences going forward “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 had a major impact in his first season with Cleveland as his veteran presence helped many of the team's young players, and he was able to reunite with good friend and former teammate Kevin Love, himself a mental health advocate.

Rubio has been on the international basketball stage since he was a teenager, first catching the eye of scouts and fans as a 14-year-old hoops prodigy. He won an Olympic silver medal in 2008, a bronze in 2012 and was named FIBA World Cup MVP in 2019.

He was drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009 and spent seven seasons with the team before going to Utah.

Rubio thanked all his teams, especially Cleveland, led by Altman and coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

"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 Koby and JB, who have been extremely respectful and understanding of my situation and caring for me as a person.”