Kevin Porter Jr.’s days with the Houston Rockets appear to be numbered. Last week, news broke that the Rockets guard had allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, Kysre Gondrezick, in New York.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Rockets are in talks with multiple teams to trade Porter Jr., using draft pick compensation to facilitate a deal. Per Charania, in deal scenarios, the Rockets would be using Porter’s salary to target a player under contract who can play immediately and help the team. However, Porter is not expected to attend Rockets’ training camp in October.
The NBA is currently in the midst of an investigation into the alleged incident pursuant to the rules of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Silver indicated that the league could take its time to render a decision.
For the Rockets, it seems Porter’s days are numbered. After signing a four-year, $63.4 million contract back in 2022, he was set to earn $15.86 million this season, in 2023-2024. It’s that $15.86 million figure that Rockets management is needing to match in trades per the rules of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Porter’s contract was structured in some part in fear of the potential for a situation like the present one. His 2024-2025 $15.86 million salary is partially guaranteed, with $3 million becoming guaranteed on opening night, $6 million becoming guaranteed five days after the 2024 trade deadline, and the entirety becoming guaranteed on June 30, 2024. Thus, any team trading for Porter would be acquiring him as an expiring salary and waiving him to free up his cap figure off its books.
The Rockets had been planning for Porter to play a major role off the bench this season in a year they were hoping to make a leap. Now, if he’s played his last game, they’ll need to find replacement production. Incoming rookies Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore would stand to see the largest increase in playing time and usage.
Moreover, coupled with the contracts of free agent acquisitions Jeff Green and Jock Landale, the Rockets stood to have significant aggregate expiring salary to use in trades at the deadline to pursue a high priced star player. Depending on what happens with Porter, those plans could be in peril.
For now, the Rockets wait on the culmination of the league’s investigation. Porter was the first prospect in the team’s rebuild following its James Harden era, acquired from Cleveland virtually for free. He started at point guard over the past two seasons to mixed results. It appeared that he had been making strides towards overcoming the character issues which had been plagued him since college.
Porter’s next court date is on October 16.