Amico: Cavs’ relationship with Porter Jr. doesn’t have to end

Cavaliers shooting guard Kevin Porter Jr. extends the ball during a game vs. the Magic. - AP

Kevin Porter Jr. wasn’t the first professional athlete to yell at a general manager, and he most certainly won’t be the last.

This isn’t to downplay what happened in the Cavaliers’ locker room between Porter and GM Koby Altman. To be honest, I don’t know anything more about it than you. I only know what’s been reported.

But I also know I first set foot in an NBA locker room in 1992 — and this sort of thing is nothing new. So history and context are always helpful in these situations.

If you understand those things, you understand that blowups in NBA locker rooms aren’t exactly a rarity. It is a passionate place, filled with large men and sometimes, even bigger egos.


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You also understand that the Cavs probably aren’t going to waive Porter. They could — but I doubt it.

They may not even trade Porter. I think they will, but I don’t think any of us actually know. Right now, most of us are just guessing. We have heard the Cavs are done with Porter, and maybe that is indeed the case.

If it is, there’s no rush. The NBA trade deadline isn’t until March 25 this year. And who can forget how long the Cavs held on to J.R. Smith after telling him to stay away back in 2018?

If you do forget, I believe the answer is somewhere around eight months.

That was a veteran player who the Cavs decided was past his prime. They were right, as Smith made no impact last season with the Lakers and is sitting at home today.

So how long do you think the Cavs would be willing to hang on to Porter, a promising shooting guard in just his second pro season? I bet it could be all the way until March 25.

ANOTHER ANGLE

Again, I’m not trying to excuse Porter for his role in the locker room flareup. I don’t know this for a fact, but if the Cavs truly want to move on from Porter, it likely involves more than just what happened in the locker room.

I also know that people within the organization are human. Maybe they tell a reporter that “we’re done with Porter” out of the heat of the moment, and don’t really mean it. Maybe not, too. But it’s something to consider.

More likely, the Cavs are indeed done with Porter.

Still, I’ve been around long enough to know that you never say never about anything in the NBA.

Is Porter likely a goner? Yes. Could he still be a member of the Cavaliers in five years? You’d better believe it.

Someday, we will hear Porter’s side of this story. Now may not be the best time — not for him, and certainly not for the Cavs.

Of course, that is sort of my issue with the Cavs. We generally only hear from them.

I don’t cover the team on a full-time basis anymore, but I can tell you that for the last two years, the very minute I write something the Cavs don’t like, the media relations department texts and calls me.

It didn’t used to be that way. But if you ever wonder why it seems many of today’s reporters who cover the Cavs are constantly favorable about the Cavs … well, it’s because they don’t want the Cavs to shut them out. That makes sense, to an extent.

But it can also mean you’re merely an unpaid mouthpiece for the front office, and that leaves the players (and sometimes, the difficult facts) out of the equation.

Sometimes, that means not being fair to players in situations such as the one involving Porter.

We rush to judgment, accuse him of being a “head case,” insist his career in Cleveland is unsalvageable.

But from everything I can gather, the guy just wanted to play ball, and the Cavs wouldn’t let him. They finally did, and when he walked in the locker room, he discovered his locker stall had been replaced and moved.

If that were me at 20-years old, I’d be spitting mad, too. Heck, I’d be spitting mad at this old age.

That’s not to say Porter handled it the least bit professionally. And never forget, the Cavs are a professional basketball organization.

They have one question when it comes to a player: “Can you help us win?” If the answer is yes, they’ll pay you, and maybe even overpay you. If the answer is no, you’re out, end of conversation.

It sounds harsh, but that is an NBA team’s only responsibility toward the coaches and players. You play, we pay. That is all the relationship needs to be.

Right now, it is also the only question the Cavs need to ask about Porter. If he can help them win, and convince them he won’t be a headache, this doesn’t have to be over.

And frankly, I’m not entirely convinced it is.

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About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico is the founder and senior writer of FortyEight Minutes. He has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for OutKick, Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and NBA.com.

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