Over the weekend we learned that the Cleveland Cavaliers were no longer interested in keeping SG/SF Kevin Porter Jr. on the roster. This came as a bit of a shock to some given how vocal they’ve been in terms of their dedication to essentially rehabilitating him, but with the outburst after Friday’s win over the New York Knicks, it makes complete sense. According to reports, Porter Jr. became enraged after learning that his locker had been given to newcomer Taurean Prince and he was to be seated next to the rookies and guys who didn’t receive much playing time. Given his status with the team at that particular time, it makes sense. He had been away from the team since last year, had one practice a few days earlier and Friday’s game was his first time being on the sideline with his teammates. He was in the position to work his way back to where he had been prior. He needed to earn back the trust of his coaches and teammates, but most importantly, show that he could not only be reliable on the court but off of it as well.
Feeling as if you’ve been replaced is awful, but given how high the team was on him, believing that he’d be the teams’ superstar, not Collin Sexton, there’s no way he thought that. Which should lead anyone to believe that if it wasn’t this, it would have been something else. All the progress he made over the last several months was gone in a matter of seconds over his seating arrangement. You have sports fans (a good portion aren’t Cleveland fans) thrashing the Cavaliers for their “treatment” of Porter Jr. and for giving up on him for “throwing food,” but that’s due to a lack of national coverage (ESPN) when it comes to small-market teams. We’re aware of his car accident, his gun charge, the marijuana possession and the accusations of assaulting a woman whom his sister had been arguing with, but if you aren’t a fan of Cleveland you may not be.
The clamoring over him being on any roster at this point just shows that these men are only seen as entertainers, not complex human beings that battle the same things we do. If you worked in an office with someone who was a hell of an employee but had shown time and time again that he’s not the most stable person, would you want to work with him? Would you want that person working for you? His health should be his friends and family’s top priority and one can only hope he’s surrounded by the right kinds of people.
PF Kevin Love, along with a handful of other NBA players, have made their stance on mental health known and you cannot in good faith support them, but want this version of Porter Jr. in your team’s locker room. He does not appear to be mentally prepared to take on the kind of responsibility that comes with being an NBA player. On the outside looking in, it can be easy to see how people who don’t follow the Cavaliers believe that they’re giving up on him for simply having a JR Smith moment, but in reality, that moment appears to have been the last straw. Porter Jr. isn’t troublesome like the aforementioned Smith or even like former Cavalier Kyrie Irving, he should be looked at with the same lens as someone like Delonte West. He needs to receive the proper care to prevent him from going down a path he cannot come back from and, right now, I believe the first step is for him to temporarily step away from the game.
From an organizational standpoint, I commend the Cavalier organization for making such a difficult choice. But Cleveland fans have already seen the toll an unruly player takes on a franchise and fanbase because of Josh Gordon and the Cleveland Browns. At this point, they need to worry about the other guys in the locker room. As an organization that’s trying to move forward in all facets, this was the right move to make, no matter how much it may sting.