The Cleveland Cavaliers are parting ways with former first-round draft pick Kevin Porter Jr.
In 2019, Cleveland traded up to be able to select Porter out of USC. The youngster had widely been regarded as one of the more talented players available, but scared some potential suitors off with lingering conduct issues – and not the Anthony Edwards kind.
Early on, from a basketball standpoint at least, Porter rewarded the Cavs for their faith. He averaged 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 50 games during his inaugural campaign. Unfortunately the good times ended there.
Porter had been away from the Cavaliers for most of this season for what had been described as “personal reasons.” Personal reasons can come in several forms: the kind that Kyrie Irving has been citing to sit out, despite everyone knowing the real reasons, and the kind that apply to Porter, which are far more troubling.
In October of last year, Porter sparked concern when he posted a black square on his Instagram with the message “Do you ever wish to see the end of your time?” After concerned parties followed up on his status, Porter deleted his Instagram account. He then posted to Twitter: “I’m fine. Been thru my worse times already, can’t get worse than what I already been thru. Love & Thank you.” Before anyone could figure out what was going on, that message got deleted as well.
A month or so later, in mid-November, Porter was arrested after flipping and crashing his Mercedes SUV in the middle of the night. Police discovered a loaded handgun in the glove compartment and a small amount of marijuana upon a search of the vehicle. Porter is said to have admitted that he was drinking earlier in the evening.
Despite that, a grand jury declined to indict the Cavs youngster on a felony weapons charge after he was able to show that he didn’t know the gun was in the car. Officials also concluded he was not impaired at the time of the accident.
On Monday, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic relayed the latest disconcerting incident to occur to involving Porter.
Porter apparently became very angry that the Cavaliers gave his old locker to Taurean Prince, whom the team acquired in last week’s multi-team James Harden trade.
When Porter realized that not only was the locker in a different place, but moved to the wall where the younger bench players have theirs, he is said to have snapped. He allegedly threw food and compared the Cavs’ treatment of him to slavery.
“The argument kept escalating and Porter was heard yelling about ‘modern-day slavery,’” NBA insider Spencer Davies reported on Monday afternoon. “Porter had grown frustrated recently because the team had been holding him out. He has yet to play in a game this season.”
Obviously at this point Porter needs a new home. But where?
The three most logical potential destinations are the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors.
Portland makes sense for several reasons. First and foremost, Porter appears to be tight with Carmelo Anthony. And having a veteran pull you in when you’re having a hard time can be extremely comforting if you’re a young player going through some stuff.
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The move also makes sense from a basketball perspective. C.J. McCollum’s injury takes away one potential offensive option and will inevitably result in defenses coming down harder on Damian Lillard.
Porter is dangerous with the ball in his hands and will be able to utilize his skill set on a roster comprised of a lot of guys who can shoot, but have trouble creating something for themselves off the dribble. Unlike certain players currently on the Blazers’ roster, Porter has never forgotten how to dribble in the middle of a game.
It’s also worth noting, adding Porter will not in any way interfere with Portland’s desire to acquire Draymond Green.
If not the Blazers, the Lakers could make a lot of sense. Currently LA is rolling, but injuries will inevitably creep up on them to some degree. And who knows how things will end up working out with the Talen Horton-Tucker situation. Adding some talented depth on the cheap could pay major dividends when the postseason rolls around.
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Plus, given the Lakers’ salary cap situation, it will be very hard for them to add strong players going forward. Picking them up when they become available in situations like this is even more important when you don’t have a ton of money to spend on new free agents.
Finally, don’t sleep on the Raptors. Toronto has struggled in the early going this season, and a lack of effective playmakers is a big reason why. Adding someone like Porter would alleviate some of the pressure from guys like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry. While this wouldn’t fix the problem that was created when the organization opted to alienate Serge Ibaka, it would help a little.
Fortunately for Porter, he is still very young. At 20 years old, he still has his whole future ahead of him. If he can just land in the right situation after leaving Cleveland, he could end up turning out just fine when it’s all said and done.
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A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.