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Kevin Porter Jr. - How much could we know?

How much can we ever know?

Houston Rockets Draft Press Conference
Good Planning.
Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images

I haven’t written anything official on the Kevin Porter Jr situation thus far. It’s been well-covered, and I haven’t thought I had much to add to it. I did think it might be worthwhile to say something, a summation of my thoughts, as a way of hopefully closing the matter, or at least this chapter of it.

I’m sure we’ll hear more as the legal process moves forward, and as the NBA and the Rockets undertake their own decisions and rulings on the matter.

Most likely nothing much further is going to happen in the case until Porter’s scheduled October 16th court appearance in New York. The only substantial development seems to be an admission from the New York DA that Kysre Gondrezick did not necessarily suffer a fractured vertebrae from the attack itself, but rather had a congenital condition in her neck that made initial tests appear as though she had.

Meanwhile the Rockets await the NBA’s decision in the matter, particularly regarding Porter’s salary and roster spot, as I would venture to guess he has played his last game as a Rocket.

There are some rumors making the rounds that Indiana might be interested in trading Buddy Hield for Porter Jr. The effect of this would be to save Indiana about $3-4 million in salary this season if the contract is not voided, and around $16 million if Porter’s deal is voided henceforth. It would also give the Pacers the rights to the future years of Porter’s deal, should they wish to retain his services, I suppose.

In Hield, the Rockets would get a good shooter with decent size who shooters and doesn’t do a lot else on the basketball court. (To be fair, he’s had adequate rebound and assist numbers in the past, and last season his 3pt percentage was nearly 42%, so he’d be a good fit with Van Vleet in many respects. Buddy Love does not, under any circumstances, play defense.) Hield is an unrestricted free agent after this season, so really, why not? If it’s just an exchange of contracts, and the Rockets don’t have to provide anything else substantial to Indiana to make the deal work, mazeltov.

Buddy does not seem to be part of Indiana’s long term plans. It’s hard to see how Mathurin and Hield could ever be on the court together at the same time, as it truly is an “only one basketball” situation.

There’s been some discussion of culpability on the part of Rafael Stone and the Rockets, for signing a deal with Porter at all. Given the non guaranteed nature of his contract, I simply don’t see how that could be the case. Stone did not assault a sleeping woman, Porter (allegedly) did. The Rockets provided an employment contract that specified clear and simple terms of cancellation, with no justification necessary, by the Rockets. One would suppose a certain fear of unspecified bad behavior by Porter was the reason for those terms, and an acknowledgement of the same was why Porter and his representatives accepted the deal.

What I see in the circumstance was management prudently managing risk. I can’t believe they thought something this terrible would happen, but they made provision to sever ties nonetheless. I find all the 20-20 hindsight pieces from outside the RocketSphere a bit tiresome. “Why didn’t someone do something sooner?” What, exactly, should they have done? Why do they think that the Rockets, who, if you research the matter, you’ll find assigned mentors, etc, to Porter, didn’t try? Just how responsible IS your employer for your behavior outside work?

As for Porter, this horrific incident shows that whatever we may think, believe and hope about players, we don’t know them. We try to piece together an idea of what they’re like, what to expect, and what to guard against, based on fragments of someone’s life. Even in an age of social media, cameras everywhere, aggregation and an endless deluge of gossip, innuendo and speculation, we really don’t know anything.

We don’t know the content of people’s hearts, or character. We don’t know the devils that drive them, or their better angels. It’s a risk to put any of our faith in strangers, indeed, it’s a risk to put our faith in many people we may know. That’s life, though, and being the fan of a team.

I, personally, had hoped that we were seeing signs of maturity, and growth, in Porter Jr. I’m not the sort of person who likes to write someone with a difficult past off. I want to see them succeed, to find a place in the world where they can shed the miseries of their past and not bring misery to others.

Sometimes that doesn’t happen. It’s now time to let the law take its course, and hope that we will see justice done.

Aside from further developments, I’m done with this. On to training camp.

Don’t feel much like a poll on this one.