Source: Ben Axelrod AP
One of the major story-lines that erupted in NBA news on Monday was none other than the Kevin Porter Jr.-Cavaliers situation. As the Athletic first reported, the Cavs are intending to waive or trade the second-year guard from the team after another reported outburst arose.
For Kevin Porter Jr., he has had a uneasy track record at best stemming from his time with the USC Trojans. In his lone season in Southern California, Porter Jr. was suspended for “personal conduct” issues, and his status with the team was in jeopardy as kicking him off the team was on the table for a time.
Their was obvious talent from the former-five star as he was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 30th pick in last years draft– it looked like a home run. KPJ put up averages of 10 points and 3.2 rebounds on 23.2 minutes per game, and his wide array of abilities on the offensive end had Cavaliers fans genuinely believing he was their best future piece on the roster.
Playing disciplined on the basketball court has never been an issue for the guard, but his actions off the court in the off-season have derailed his 2020-21 season to this point.
Kevin Porter Jr. was accused of reportedly “punching a woman in the face and ripping off her weave during an August fight in downtown Cleveland” by Adam Ferrise of cleveland.com. Though those accusations never resulted in any legal troubles to this point, the same cannot be said with his incident in November. Porter Jr. reportedly crashed his car on the interstate with possessing a handgun and suspected marijuana in the vehicle. Porter Jr. was arrested on multiple charges for this incident, but were later dropped.
As The Athletic first reported, the final straw for the Cavaliers came over the weekend when Porter Jr. got into a heated exchange with GM Koby Altman and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. The exchange took place due to a locker change in which Porter Jr’s locker was moved to the back for newly acquired forward Tauren Prince. The Cavaliers made their intentions clear when Bickerstaff addressed the media saying, “We all want to see Kevin be successful and I still feel that way, so whatever it is that happens in the future for him, I hope nothing but the best for him.”
So where does that tie in the Oklahoma City Thunder? The Thunder are always looking to acquire the best assets down the line (as shown by their avalanche of future draft picks,) and Porter Jr. may fit the description. The 20-year-old shooting-guard provides 3-level scoring off the bench the team currently does not have. Hamidou Diallo has established himself as a source of firepower off the bench thus far, but his attacks are more inside-oriented, compared to KPJ’s mixture of threes, mid-ranges, and drives to the lane. The potential is real with Porter Jr., but the decisive factor will come down to if the team can manage him.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have prided themselves upon culture since the inception of the franchise in the 2008-2009 season. Head Coach Mark Daigneault stated post-game in their last game, “We’re not trying to build a resilient culture, we’re trying to maintain a resilient culture.” Off the court issues have plagued Porter Jr. throughout his career, but there is zero doubt that he can play ball. It is up to Sam Presti and the Thunder organization to decide if Porter Jr. is worth a shot on the roster and if they can instill the same values into him as the other current and alum players who have been through the organization (expect maybe Kevin Durant.)