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Cleveland Cavaliers signing Ricky Rubio with mid-level exception, not via sign-and-trade with Indiana Pacers

Rubio’s path back to Cleveland now creates some questions about Collin Sexton’s status.

Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Lauren Bacho/NBAE via Getty Images

Ricky Rubio’s path back to the Cleveland Cavaliers is a bit clearer.

As first reported by’s Chris Fedor, Rubio is coming back via a chunk of the Cavs’ mid-level exception. The other option was to bring Rubio back via a sign-and-trade with the Indiana Pacers who the Cavs dealt Rubio to last year for Caris LeVert after Rubio tore his ACL.

This means a few things. For one, it means the Cavs will sign Rubio outright and not send someone back to the Pacers. That means with Rubio and the reported signings of center Robin Lopez and guard Raul Neto, Cleveland’s roster is full at 15. Had they sent Cedi Osman or Dylan Windler out in a sign-and-trade, that would have cleared a roster spot.

That roster spot matters because Collin Sexton is still a free agent and, for the Cavs to bring him back, they need an open roster spot. A sign-and-trade was the most obvious path to doing so, leading to Cleveland needing another way to clear a spot for Sexton if they plan to bring him back or send him somewhere else via a sign-and-trade.

So, in short: the Cavs are doing a logical thing here in signing Rubio via the mid-level exception. They won’t be hard capped as a result and didn’t have to use a draft pick to dump a contract. But it now creates more questions about how to create a roster spot for Sexton. Ultimately, bringing him back may require attaching a pick to a player anyway.