Amico: Rising Cavs had no choice but to cut ties with Kevin Porter Jr.

Former Cavaliers guard Kevin Porter Jr. warms up prior to a game vs. the Timberwolves. - USA Today

It came down to doing what was best for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That was the lone reason for general manager Koby Altman‘s trade of Kevin Porter Jr. to the Houston Rockets.

It wasn’t personal. It was business. And from the looks of things lately, Altman has done a pretty good job when it comes to the business of building a pro basketball team.

The Cavs (8-7) just knocked off Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets for the second time in three days on Friday, 125-113. The Cavs are doing it with youth, with some excellent coaching, with a whole lot of Collin Sexton, and with a serious dose of culture.

That last part is why Porter needed to go. The Cavs can’t have anyone get in the way of what’s working.

“After careful and thoughtful evaluation, we made the very difficult and collective decision to make this trade,” Altman said in a statement.

“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.”

Most of these news releases make the person speaking sound like a programmed robot — but not this time.

Altman put everything out there. He talked about the importance of culture, of environment. He said the decision was not easy. He was honest.

Now, in years past, with this franchise, that may not have meant a whole lot. They were just empty buzzwords.

But these Cavs today have one major thing going for them, and it’s bigger than the continued rise of Sexton and development of some of the other young guns.

It’s bigger than what appears to be a steal of a deal that brought in Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince. It’s even bigger than beating a contender such as the Nets twice in a row.

It’s something sustainable, something you can hang your hat on in lieu of a “Big Three” or a super-duper star such as LeBron James.

It’s called creating conditions that are suitable for growth — individually, and as a unit.

Through 15 games this season, the Cavs are displaying exactly that. They are showing a winning mindset. They are showing togetherness. They are showing pride.

Yes, those are all buzzwords and catchphrases, too. Yes, they can sound cheesy. And yes, they are often overused. But with these Cavs, they apply. And all you need to do to realize it is follow the team.

Altman later added that Porter “at his core, is a good person.”

That too is true. He got along well with teammates. He’s polite and personable with the media. He’s gifted and he always plays hard.

Those are all things that can carry you a long way as a pro basketball player, and as a man.

But the Cavs don’t have much margin for error, and undoubtedly no room for major distractions. For whatever reason, Porter was guilty of creating some of those things, or at least too many for what the Cavs are trying to build.

Keeping him may have resulted in reward. But the risk was just too high. Things are just going too smoothly for this franchise. Altman has a lot to do with that. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has tons to do with it. And the men in uniform clearly love being in a part of it.

As tough as it may be, anyone who steps too far out of the circle has to go.

Porter is getting another opportunity to put it all together. Perhaps he can even flourish in a different situation. The Cavs just decided that situation wasn’t going to be here.

In an early season that’s been defined by excitement and hope, it was a decision that had to be made.

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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