The Kevin Porter Jr. situation with the Rockets just ended exactly as we always knew it would. Yet, it all still feels so repugnant. Everyone involved should feel ashamed.
The Rockets traded Porter Jr. to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Victor Oladipo and a couple of future second-round picks that likely won’t matter much by the time they convey.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the story on Tuesday, adding that the Thunder are waiving Porter after the deal.
If you can’t tell, this entire transaction doesn’t sit right with me. At all. Both the Thunder and the Rockets should be ashamed of themselves. The NBA should, too, for allowing this to happen.
ESPN Sources: The Houston Rockets are trading G Kevin Porter Jr., and two future second-round picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder — who are waiving Porter Jr., immediately. Thunder are sending the Rockets Victor Oladipo and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl in the transaction. pic.twitter.com/PBaHA0f5lW
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 17, 2023
Here’s why this feels so wrong: Porter has already done some pretty awful things in the past, even before this latest incident in which he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. The Rockets knew about his history. The team even structured Porter Jr.’s contract in a way that it could completely bail on him if he did another awful thing.
Regardless, Houston refused to lay in its bed. It still sought a trade partner for Porter Jr. We all knew that some team would eventually bite. And, of course, it was Oklahoma City coming to the rescue once again.
This isn’t surprising — Sam Presti’s specialty is taking on the rest of the NBA’s problems for draft capital. We all know how much Presti loves his picks, right? He’ll take them no matter the circumstance.
Come one, come all. It doesn’t matter if it’s something simple like an older player who isn’t as good as he used to be or something heinous like someone who casually tossed out a racial slur while gaming. If you send a pick, the deal is done. I guess we can add alleged abuser to that checklist now, too.
I’ve seen way too many people championing this as simply a good business move on the Rockets’ part.
I mean, sure, maybe in a vacuum it is. Houston has managed to improve its team by taking a player it couldn’t use and plugging in two new replacements. Forget about the reasons Houston barred Porter Jr. from playing, I guess. Regardless, the Rockets have two warm bodies to sit on the bench now.
On the Thunder’s end, all they had to do was waive Porter Jr. and eat a $16.5 million cost. Again, forget about why he’s reportedly being waived for a second. Oklahoma City just got two second-round picks out of this. Two! Do you know what those second-round picks could be? They could even be traded again. What a steal, right?
Unfortunately, this world isn’t a vacuum. We live here. There’s a human element in all of this that people — and these NBA teams — seem to fail to recognize.
Instead of saying “OK, we were wrong about this. We shouldn’t have done this,” and taking responsibility for knowingly employing an alleged abuser, the Rockets found a way to weasel themselves out of it. This team was essentially rewarded for taking a risk on a player it knew had a problem.
This isn’t just shrewd management at work — it’s a complete disregard for the human element within professional sports.
It’s clear that all Porter Jr. was to the Rockets was an asset. A financial cog in the machine that would, hopefully, be spun enough times to win the Rockets a championship. They ignored the fact that he is a real person who was also out there allegedly hurting other real people. That didn’t matter until now. And, because of Sam Presti, the team gets to walk off scott-free despite ignoring every sign that had always pointed to this inevitable end.
That is gross. But this is the NBA. It’s the Moneyball culture that has permeated the league so deeply that players have just become pieces on a board. Sure, it’s made for some better basketball over the years. But it’s also caused the league — and this sport — to lose a bit of the humanity that’s made it so fantastic over the years.
What a great shame that is.