The Cleveland Cavaliers were likely set to move on from Kevin Porter Jr. soon, based on what was reported earlier this week.
According to a Monday report from The Athletic‘s Joe Vardon, Jason Lloyd and Kelsey Russo and Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (subscription required), Porter had an outburst on Friday in the Cavaliers locker room.
In that report, it was stated that the Cavaliers are expected to trade or release Porter, who was shouting at Cavs general manager Koby Altman, and even at one point, “threw food.”
That stemmed from Porter being upset because his locker was moved and given to recent trade acquisition Taurean Prince, and Porter’s locker was moved near young, end-of-bench players, reportedly.
The reason for that locker change, though, was reportedly, per Basketball News’ Spencer Davies, because of “NBA seniority and spacing to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.” In that report, Davies stated how Porter continued to be combative with Altman, and was “heard yelling about ‘modern-day slavery.'”
Porter, who had not played for Cleveland this season due to personal reasons, was previously arrested in Mahoning County stemming from him being involved in a single-car rollover crash in November, and there having been found .45 caliber hand gun in the vehicle, to go with a small amount of marijuana.
Porter then faced a felonious charge for improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor charge for marijuana possession and was then charged with failure to control. All of those charges were reportedly dismissed, though, and Porter at the time of the crash was not injured, nor impaired.
Porter was also reportedly accused of punching a woman in downtown Cleveland previously earlier before the season in August.
Porter had reported off-floor issues, and previously was suspended in his lone collegiate season at USC, for further context, and unfortunately, it seemed as though those were a problem with him with the Cavs. But 20-year-old’s making mistakes is not something that’s completely unforseen.
Porter participating in practice on Thursday of last week, per a report from Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, was a positive, along with him joining Cleveland on the bench for their game versus the New York Knicks. Albeit as Fedor hit on in his report, the Cavs appeared to have grown tired of Porter taking seemingly a step forward but taking steps back in his growth mentally, really.
In that realm, it was reported on Thursday night by Charania that the Cavs finalized a deal to trade KPJ to the Houston Rockets. And that was reportedly for a future protected second-round pick, per Wojnarowski, who noted that the Cavs were “ready to move off his salary.”
From there, Fedor reported that Rockets’ future 2 is “top-55 protected and unlikely to ever convey, sources say.”
The Rockets reportedly taking on Porter with one of their trade exceptions, so his $1.71 million remaining salary and what he’s due for next season after the Cavs picking up his $1.78 million guaranteed, per Fedor, is a plus, though.
And Fedor alluded to how the Cavs’ positioning now after this trade below luxury tax territory opens a roster spot and could enable them to sign a backup point guard “while Matthew Dellavedova remains sidelined indefinitely because of a concussion.”
Porter appeared to have the makings of a key Cavs young core piece, but it just didn’t work out.
Porter looked to be a potential star even down the road for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and last season, came up with a big-time performance against the Rockets pretty early on with 24 points, and in a comeback effort versus the Miami Heat, had a career-best 30 points.
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Last season, he finished with 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.9 steals per game in a bench role, and before this season, seemed poised to have a breakout campaign.
The talent is there for Porter to be a star in the NBA, and he showed such promise with his handle/ability to create space off-the-bounce, him being a versatile finisher, incredible athlete with impressive power and body control, and him having noteworthy defensive potential.
Porter’s assist rate of 14.7 percent as a rookie, and him having one of 17.1 percent in his last 12 games active highlighted how he’s a capable playmaker, too.
And for naturally a score-first player, he could be a factor as a primary playmaker at times as well, as he seems to have good vision/ball movement instincts.
Clearly, in the case with Porter and the Cavs, though, things just didn’t work out, but they reportedly gave the relationship their absolute best efforts. For KPJ, I hope that he can get himself right mentally, and that the Rockets have a good support system for him, both on and seemingly even more so, off the floor.
As a brief side note in the realm of trades, it would seem as if fans should look out for Andre Drummond and/or JaVale McGee to potentially be dealt by Cleveland, based on recent rumors/reports.
The Cavs recently acquired Jarrett Allen via trade, who should definitely be in their long-term cards, one would assume, and with both Drummond and McGee expiring, something will likely have to give regarding Cleveland’s 5’s.
Drummond, who is set to make $28.8 million this season, looks to be much less simple to move than McGee, who is set to be on the books for $4.2 million, by comparison, though. So perhaps the Cavs could maybe just keep Dre through the deadline, and have him sign elsewhere this offseason, in theory?
That wouldn’t seem as likely, especially with how Drummond has made his presence felt in a big way on the interior at both ends, but we’ll have to see.
Anyhow, circling back to Porter, though, it’s unfortunate how things didn’t really work out with him/the Cavs’ dynamic, but at this point, it seemed to be a win that the Cavs/Altman found a team to take on his salary. And hopefully KPJ ends up turning his situation around.