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NBA News: Latest on Ricky Rubio, R.J. Hunter, and Josh Hart

Mar 28, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio (13) shoots against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend brought several noteworthy  NBA News among Eastern Conference guards, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Hornets, and New York Knicks at the forefront of the latest news.

NBA News: Latest on Ricky Rubio, R.J. Hunter, and Josh Hart

Ricky Rubio & the Importance of Mental Health

Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio announced Saturday that he is taking a break from professional basketball, citing a need to focus on his mental health.

In a statement released by the 12-year-veteran through the Spanish Basketball Federation, he said in part:

I want to thank all the support I have received from the [Spanish national] team to understand my decision. Today #family makes more sense than ever. Thank you. I would ask that my privacy be respected so that I can face these moments and be able to give more information when the time is right.

Rubio was set to lead the Spanish national team in their defense of their 2019 FIBA World Cup title. However, he left during the team’s training camp in Madrid last week.

Furthermore, Rubio’s decision is part of a growing and necessary conversation around athlete mental health. The NBA has increased its efforts towards caring for its players’ mental well-being, and players are continually growing more comfortable sharing their experiences in an effort to break the stigma around mental health, with recent examples including Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Aside from requiring teams to have relationships with mental health practitioners and “an action plan for mental-health emergencies,” the league’s latest initiative, NBA Mind Health, offers resources for teams and fans to prioritize their own mental health.

At this time, it’s unknown if Rubio’s absence will extend into the 2023-24 NBA season. However, he is taking laudable action towards his mental health as he continues his 18th year of his professional career.

Hornets Sign R.J. Hunter

The Hornets agreed to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with guard R.J. Hunter on Saturday. Hunter had a storied college career with Georgia State, famously scoring 12 of their 13 points (including the game-winning three) to upset No. 3-seeded Baylor in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. He was drafted 28th overall by the Boston Celtics in the 2015 NBA Draft. However, Hunter struggled to gain consistency. Then, he played for the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets before briefly returning to Boston. He played one game against the Rockets and scored 17 points on 6/13 shooting from the field and 4/10 from three.

Hunter has spent the past few seasons overseas, playing in Turkey and Australia. His recent stint with the NBL’s Sydney Kings saw him average four points per game on 29% shooting. Furthermore, Hunter has spent the last year and a half recovering from a torn left Patella Tendon.

Furthermore, Hunter’s perimeter shooting will greatly benefit the Hornets. They finished 27th in threes made per game (10.7) and 29th in three-point percentage (33%). Though he will have to compete against reserve guards Nick Smith Jr. and Bryce McGowens, there’s a chance Hunter could nab the team’s final two-way contract spot.

Josh Hart Eyeing Extension with Knicks

After agreeing to his $12.9 million player option, Knicks guard Josh Hart is looking to stay with the franchise long-term.

Hart averaged 10.2 points, seven rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 blocks per contests in 25 games donning blue and orange. Following Team USA’s camp practice Friday, Hart noted his desire to get a new deal done soon.

Opting in, I was gonna take it one day at a time,” Hart said. “Hopefully—that’s a place where I want to be and a place I want to call home.

A sharpshooting scorer and tenacious rebounder, Hart made an impact right when he arrived in “The City That Never Sleeps.” His 10.2 points per game came on a scintillating 51% shooting from three (27-of-52). Hart’s contributions were magnified in the postseason. He appeared in 11 playoff games, averaging 10.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists on 48% shooting from the field.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported that Hart could be in line for a four-year, $75 million extension in the near future. With the Knicks realigning their core around Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and R.J. Barrett, Hart could very well be in the team’s future plans, as they look to keep bringing winning basketball back to the Big Apple. 

Therefore, Hart and the others all provide very interesting NBA News.


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