NBA Notebook: Ricky Rubio Lost for the Season

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Rory Breasail

December 31st, 2021

With Christmas Day now behind us, the road to the 2022 All-Star Game has officially begun. Get caught up on the post-Yuletime news cycle with the latest edition of our NBA Notebook.


The NBA continues to be absolutely hammered by players entering health and safety protocols, leading to more and more call-ups. It’s now at the point where players signed to 10-day contracts are being brought in to replace other players who signed 10-day contracts after the first group also entered protocols. 

In an effort to maintain some semblance of league cohesion, the NBA has again updated its protocols. As of this week, the quarantine period has been reduced to six days from 10, or two consecutive negative tests.

ESPN cites league sources that say individuals who have received their booster shot clear the virus out of their system more quickly than those who haven’t. If such data exists, the NBA should make it public, both because it would be a useful data point for public health policy and because it would increase trust in the NBA’s decision-making that otherwise looks troublingly self-serving.


Not only is COVID-19 ravaging NBA rosters, it is also taking a toll on another essential league personnel pool: NBA referees. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, more than a third of the NBA’s total referees have now entered health and safety protocols.

With 25 of the NBA’s 75 referees in protocols, G League referees have been getting call-ups to the big leagues, in a move mirroring the innumerable roster opportunities granted to G League players. It has also resulted in instances where games have been limited to two, rather than the full three referees.

Fans love to complain about NBA officials, but watch a college basketball game for 10 minutes and you gain a great appreciation for the fact that NBA refs truly are the best in the world at their job. If the referee shortage gets much worse, fans might be in for another reminder of how good they had it.


And in the last of the COVID-19 NBA news roundup, seven NBA head coaches are now in health and safety protocols. While long-term health questions remain for the impact that fully vaccinated and boosted players might suffer from getting COVID-19, there remains the more immediate and scary possibility of what might happen to the NBA’s most vulnerable population groups when they contract the virus.

As the NBA continues to push the season through the Omicron outbreak, these groups should not be forced to merely resort to individual practices to protect themselves. First and foremost, the NBA must begin requiring vaccination and rigorous mask use at every NBA arena. It has never made sense that players and NBA staff face greater requirements than fans, and given that COVID-19 is an airborne virus and the NBA is an indoor sport, these measures are the absolute minimum required in order to protect players as well as other employees of the NBA.


Crushing news out of Ohio, as Ricky Rubio of the Cleveland Cavaliers, suffered a season-ending ACL tear this week. Rubio is one of the most beloved players in the NBA, and his career year has been one of the reasons for the Cleveland Cavaliers' incredible play this season.

With breakout star Darius Garland also recently entering health and safety protocols and Colin Sexton lost for the season as well, the Cavaliers are suddenly bare in the backcourt. It’s not surprising then that the Cavs are reportedly trying to secure a trade for Los Angeles Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo.

While every team is banged up and missing pieces, it is impossible to overstate how devastating this is to Cleveland’s offense going forward. Their loss to the Wizards is a harbinger of things to come, and it may be time to reverse course and begin betting Cleveland against the spread.


Longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammond has agreed to become the next head coach of the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA. Hammon was long projected to be the first woman to become an NBA head coach, but instead now becomes the highest-paid coach of one of the WNBA’s best teams.

Hammon was also suspected by many to be a natural successor to Gregg Popovich, and Hammon moving on might signal that Pop is not as close to retiring as most think. Or it might mean that former Spurs star Manu Ginobili, recently brought onto the Spurs staff, might be getting groomed to be Pop’s heir apparent.