It's becoming a broken record to say that Craig Porter Jr. has exceeded expectations this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Porter came into the year as an undrafted rookie two-way player with Cleveland, after he was a post-draft pickup from Wichita State over the summer. To Porter's credit, though, he has parlayed what was a heck of a Summer League into what's been a nice rookie campaign already.
In Porter's 24 appearances this season with the Cavaliers, he's posted splits of 7.5 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per contest. He's converted on 50.3 percent of his shot attempts, of which has been buoyed by his finishing on twos.
Porter's contributions, particularly for an unheralded rookie, have been quite the welcomed sight on a number of occasions already this year for Cleveland. And while he is still currently on a two-way contract, it's seemed as if he should be a shoe-in to have his deal eventually converted to a standard one. That thought was further substantiated on Thursday, based on this report from Brian Windhorst of ESPN, especially following Ricky Rubio's buyout agreement with the Cavaliers.
There was also further reporting on the details involved with Rubio's buyout agreement in the last couple of days, which the Cavs had to factor in to avoid luxury tax issues, with Porter's deal which seems to be on the horizon. Rubio reportedly gave back $5.4 million of his deal, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
Looking past the Rubio buyout, one could feasibly foresee Porter being given a multi-year deal after the Feb. 8 trade deadline, based on roster number flexibility pre-deadline and recent chatter. Reporter Evan Dammarell of Right Down Euclid's comment here via X/Twitter provided additional reasoning for the possible near/post-deadline Porter deal:
It's sad to see Rubio go, but keeping Porter around is a no-brainer
With what Porter has shown in his meaningful time with the Cavs, he's proven to be a rotational factor. Granted, Porter has had some DNPs throughout the season based on the others involved, and with him still on a two-way, that hasn't necessarily been that shocking.
With Rubio no longer in the fold, however, and with the Windhorst report from Thursday and/or other talk surrounding the team of late, it seems Porter is very likely to stick around. He'd be another undrafted success story for Cleveland, too, a la Dean Wade and Lamar Stevens (from recent prior years).
Porter has already made an impact on a regular basis when he's had meaningful minutes, and for an undrafted player, he's shown tremendous poise, and has continually made key plays on both ends of the floor. Even with injuries to Darius Garland and other key playmaking options playing into the workload there to some degree thus far, Porter has averaged a robust 7.1 assists per 36 minutes this season, and defensively, he's had 1.5 steals per 36. His 5.8 rebounds per 36 thus far shouldn't be glossed over, either.
With his playmaking abilities, craftiness as a driver and creator for others, and his perimeter and team defense all leading to him making winning plays regularly, the Cavaliers seem to have tons of confidence in keeping Porter around, and rightfully so.
It's unfortunate how Rubio's tenure with the Cavs ended, especially with what he meant from a leadership and cultural perspective for this group, but Porter already having ample experience to this point has been invaluable for Cleveland. And it appears the rookie out of Wichita State is just getting going with the Wine and Gold.