On Monday, during Media Day, Houston Rockets officials publicly spoke for the first time regarding Kevin Porter Jr. and the incident involving a domestic dispute which has left his NBA career looking uncertain.
General manager Rafael Stone characterized the allegations involving the team’s former starting point guard as “deeply troubling” and stated that he had informed Porter’s representatives that he cannot be a part of the Rockets. Per reports, since news of the incident broke, the team has been dangling draft capital in hopes of finding a taker for Porter in a trade. With the door on a return firmly shut for Porter, it leaves the Rockets with a gaping hole in the backcourt where they had expected the young veteran to play a major role off the bench as a scorer and facilitator.
New head coach Ime Udoka stated that had the incident with Porter not occurred, there would have been an open competition between him and third-year guard Jalen Green for the starting shooting guard spot, a battle which now will not materialize. The Rockets, of course, inked veteran guard Fred VanVleet to a massive three-year pact this offseason to take over starting point guard duties and used the fourth pick in this summer’s draft to select 6’7 Amen Thompson, the heir apparent to VanVleet. Those moves left Porter out of the point guard picture.
Udoka cited Cam Whitmore and Aaron Holiday as options to fill Porter’s role which should not come as much of a surprise. Whitmore likely would have been the odd man out in the Rockets’ rotation but now suddenly finds himself with an opening to earn major minutes and contribute in his rookie season. Whitmore does not have Porter’s natural playmaking gifts but is equally as talented, boasting impressive size, ball-handling, athleticism, and shot-making ability. Whitmore was thought to be one of the top prospects in this summer’s draft before shockingly sliding to 20th where he was taken by Houston.
In the meantime, Houston will continue searching for a new home for Porter as the league conducts its own investigation into the incident. If the team were to waive him, it would incur the $15.9 million he is owed this season and $1 million next year, increasing to $3 million if he is on the roster for the first game, per the rules of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. This is even if the league later determines Porter violated its domestic violence policy.