The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a lot of issues with Kevin Porter Jr. ever since they selected him in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. Sources confirmed to ESPN on January 18 that they are now planning to trade or release him.
The decision comes after Porter was involved in a screaming fight with team officials on January 15. “He entered the locker room and realized the team gave his older locker to Taurean Prince, who was acquired in a blockbuster trade Wednesday,” The Athletic reported.
The 20-year-old threw a fit, sources told The Athletic, and “began yelling and at one point threw food.” Cavaliers’ general manager Koby Altman confronted Porter in the locker room, and the young NBA star “remained combative with his boss.” Afterward, Cleveland was done with Porter and spent the next following days trying to trade him.
So, where will Porter land? If we flashback to the 2019 NBA Draft, before the Miami Heat ultimately selected Tyler Herro with their 13th pick in the first round, they showed high interest in Porter. In June 2019, the Heat invited both Porter and Nassir Little to work out at the American Airlines Arena.
Porter, who played one season with the University of South Carolina, was easily one of the top prospects going into the draft, and there was speculation that the Heat might nab him if he was still on the board when Miami went on the clock. During his stint with USC, he averaged 9.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game.
While Porter showed early signs of being a disruptive player, he was briefly suspended for “personal conduct,” the guard remained a prize get in the draft. The Cavaliers traded up to grab Porter with the 30th pick.
With the Heat Depleted Due to COVID-19 and Injuries, Porter Could Be a Cheap Option to Fill In the Blanks
Herro, 20, who’s the Heat’s starting guard, suffered a neck injury during Miami’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on January 14. With lingering pain, Herro sat out during the Heat’s following matchup against the Detroit Pistons on January 16 with KZ Okpala getting the start in his place.
Neck spasms are a lingering and frustrating issue, and Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra, who’s famously good at molding young talent, might be the perfect mentor to get Porter focused on the court. Porter, who’s 6-foot-5, just like Herro, could be a clutch back-up guard for Herro if he can get his personal life in order.
Plus, the Heat won’t have to shell out too much money to obtain Porter. Last month, the Cavs picked up an option in Porter’s contract — he “has one year at $1.7 million left on his deal”, ESPN reported on Monday.
ESPN Draft analyst Mike Schmitz said of Porter in May 2019:
Kevin is really talented. I’m based out in L.A., so I got a chance to see him quite a bit. I think he’s one of the more talented scorers in the Draft, if you’re looking at sheer talent. Physically, 6’5”, 6’10” wingspan. He checks all of the boxes there.
For him, it’s about the interview process, answering why he had such an uneven season at USC, why he got suspended, why he wasn’t able to show much consistency. I think that’s what teams want to figure out about him because some days he looks like a top five pick, and some days he looks like a guy that you don’t want to invest your draft pick in.
So I think for him it’s about going to a situation where he has veterans and he has support and the team is able to help him just stay on a consistent path in terms of getting better every day.
Porter Was Arrested in November After Cops Found a Loaded Handgun In His Vehicle Following a Late Night Car Crash
Due to personal reasons, Porter has not yet played in the 2020-2021 NBA season, and his outburst on Friday was the first time he attended a Cavaliers game this year. The locker room incident comes after Porter was arrested on November 15 after flipping his Mercedes SUV during a middle-of-the-night crash on an interstate southeast of Cleveland.
When the Cleveland Police searched his vehicle, “they found a loaded handgun in the glove compartment and a small amount of marijuana,” ESPN reported. In December, his lawyer Alex Spiro said that the charges stemming from his arrest were dismissed.
Despite having a loaded .45-caliber handgun, a grand jury in Mahoning County declined to indict porter on the felony gun charges. The grand jury also dismissed Porter’s misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession and driving without a license.