Throughout this season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, one question that’s had a ton of buzz is what’s exactly going on with Kevin Porter Jr.? Well, it’s complicated.
Leading up to Cleveland’s training camp, Porter was arrested outside of Youngstown on a weapons charge after he rolled over his 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE on the highway and officers found a loaded .45-caliber handgun and suspected marijuana were located in the vehicle. The 20-year-old Porter was arrested and charged with improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, along with failure to control and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Both charges were later dropped against Porter.
The Cavs guard was also accused of punching a woman in the face during an altercation that took place in downtown Cleveland in August. According to a report from the Cleveland Police, a 26-year-old woman and 19-year-old woman said they were leaving an apartment unit when Porter and his sister, who is not named in the report, approached them. As Porter’s sister and the 26-year-old exchanged words, Porter’s sister allegedly swung and punched the 26-year-old in the face. At the same time, Porter is alleged to have thrown a drink in the face of the 19-year-old before ripping her wig off and punching her in the left side of her face, which caused slight swelling that was visible at the time the police report was taken. As of this story, Porter has not yet been charged in the matter.
During the first day of training camp, Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said his belief in Porter hadn’t diminished after calling him a franchise cornerstone the year before.
“Not at all,” Bickerstaff said. “We’re in the human being business. And no matter what our ups and downs are, our responsibility is to look out for one another and take care of one another and try to help one another as best we possibly can. And we’ll continue to do that.
“We won’t give up on anybody. We’ll continue to give people the best opportunity to make themselves into the best version of themselves that we possibly can until you leave that door, and even then we’ll maintain relationships with you and try to help you if we ever possibly can. We’re all in on all of our guys. That won’t change.
“We have high interest in human beings and not just basketball players, so we do what we can to make sure that guys are growing, guys are maturing and guys are becoming what we expect them to be and reach their potential, not just as basketball players, but as people. We’ll continue to work with all of our guys in that direction.”
Bickerstaff has since then made it clear multiple times that the organization is handling Porter’s situation internally and have a plan in place that will guide Porter back to the court eventually. Last night before the team took the floor against the Utah Jazz, Bickerstaff shared there are no updates at this time but are still sticking to said plan.
That hasn’t been enough to satiate Cavs fans.
If you look at the team’s, or any journalist covering the team’s, mentions, more often than not you’ll see a handful of replies asking about the status of Porter. Or when he should be back. Or saying that it isn’t fair to leave fans in the dark. Or that Porter should just be suspended by the team and they move forward.
Sure. All of that sounds great in theory but again it’s more complicated than just that. As Bickerstaff said, he and his staff aren’t just here to maximize Cleveland’s roster as players - they’re here to do it for them as people as well. Bickerstaff, and the entirety of the Cavaliers organization, have a set plan in place in order to get Porter back on the floor. They’re also respecting Porter’s privacy in everything going on as well and doing right by the player, not the fans, should always be the organization’s top priority in situations like this.
But, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees when Cleveland is ravaged by injuries, especially on the perimeter, and have gone through four tough losses in their last five games. That doesn’t matter though. Porter being away from the team has no impact on the fact that the Cavs have been dealing with quite a few injuries and in turn, causing the team to play ugly basketball. Porter also wasn’t here when the Cavs were playing efficient ball earlier in this season either. Just because the team is hitting a rough patch right now doesn’t mean you’re entitled to throw a fit because the team is protecting one of their players as they work towards getting him back on the floor.
That’s the other thing. Porter has a lot of work to do to catch up to the rest of the team when he does get back to playing for the Cavs. Porter was present for the team’s offseason bubble minicamp, but he missed all of training camp and the preseason. He also obviously hasn’t appeared in any of Cleveland’s 12 games so far and that likely won’t change any time soon. So, when Porter does return he’ll be fairly far behind the rest of his teammates and will have to play himself back into shape all while learning Bickerstaff’s new offensive and defensive systems over time.
When that return happens though is and will remain an unknown at this time. It’s reckless to speculate upon and frankly, none of our business to as well. One thing that’s certain is Porter will be back on the court in a Cavs uniform at one point this season — just when the time is right for both him and the organization.