Kevin Porter quickly went from being a future star with the Cavaliers to part of their past.
Cleveland completed its trade with Houston on Friday, sending Porter to the Rockets for a second-round draft pick, a deal the Cavs had no choice to make after running out of patience with a player they once viewed as a possible franchise cornerstone.
The teams agreed to the swap on Thursday night, less than a week after Porter’s outburst in Cleveland’s locker room convinced the team it had to part with the 20-year-old.
“After careful and thoughtful evaluation, we made the very difficult and collective decision to make this trade,” Cavs general manager Koby Altman said. “Given the culture and environment we have worked to cultivate here in Cleveland, we feel this move is in everyone’s best interest.
“Kevin has a bright career ahead of him as a professional basketball player and, at his core, is a good person. We wish Kevin and his family well in Houston.”
Porter posted a message on Twitter, thanking Cleveland fans, the Cavs’ organization, his teammates and coaches.
“Thank you for being there & welcoming me as family every step of the way,” he wrote. “Making a Seattle youngster feel at home in Ohio. Forever grateful for the moments we created and best of luck to you all!”
The Cavs positioned themselves to draft Porter in 2019, selecting with with the No. 30 pick after he slid past numerous teams who were scared off by his issues while at USC. And while he was far from a finished product, the team was mesmerized by the 6-foot-4 swingman’s potential and considered him one of the core pieces of its rebuild.
Porter averaged 10 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists as a rookie and was one of Cleveland’s few bright spots in a 2019 season ended prematurely by the COVID-19 pandemic. But starting last summer, Porter’s off-the-floor issues began to mount.
He was accused of punching a woman in August, and two months later sent the Cavs looking to help him after a cryptic Instagram posting. Porter was arrested on gun and marijuana possession charges in November following a single-car accident. Those were eventually dropped.
Porter was not with the team during training camp, but the Cavs wanted to make it work and always planned to bring him back. That happened last week when Porter practiced with the team for the first time and was on Cleveland’s bench during a win over New York.
However, his career with the Cavs essentially ended after the game when he became upset the team had given his locker room space to newly acquired forward Taurean Prince. Porter reportedly had a heated verbal confrontation with Altman.
The Cavs decided then it was over with Porter. They looked to make a trade to get something in return rather than releasing him.
Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff personally worked with Porter over the past year. The coach said earlier this week he hoped Porter would be able to sort things out.
“We all want to see Kevin be successful, and I still feel that way,” Bickerstaff said. “So whatever it is that happens in the future for him, I hope nothing but the best for him. And it’s part of our responsibility as coaches to give everyone our all and try to make the best of every situation.
“I can say that we did that.”