Kevin Porter Jr. on Trade to Rockets: 'This Organization Saved My Life, Potentially'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 27, 2021

Houston Rockets' Kevin Porter Jr. poses for a photograph during an NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The Houston Rockets gave Kevin Porter Jr. an opportunity for more playing time when they acquired him from the Cleveland Cavaliers via trade last season. On Monday, he said they also did something else.

"This organization saved my life, potentially," Porter Jr. told reporters during the Rockets' media day. "I just love being here and I want to be here for a while. I needed a new scenery and they picked me up when I was down."

Cleveland traded Porter, whom it selected with the No. 30 overall pick in 2019, to the Rockets in January for a top-55-protected second-round pick.

"I’m just in a better space, a better role," Porter Jr. said. "I'm just being used better. I feel like (both Cleveland and Houston) have seen I can be a special talent, but Houston just knew how to utilize me and nurture me and take care of me, basically."

He continued, saying the Rockets "gave me love and confidence in myself, and motivation to become a better player and person."

Matt Young of the Houston Chronicle noted Porter was suspended for part of his one collegiate season because of "personal conduct issues."

The USC product still looked well on his way to a productive NBA career when he averaged 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 50 games during his rookie campaign with Cleveland, but he never played for the Cavaliers last season.

He was arrested in November, although misdemeanor drug abuse and traffic violation counts and a felony firearm handling count were all dismissed. However, Young noted he "got into an altercation with Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman because his locker location had been moved" and was eventually traded to Houston.

Porter appeared in 26 games for the Rockets last season with 23 starts and improved his per-game averages to 16.6 points, 6.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds.

As the Rockets continue their post-James Harden rebuild, it wouldn't be a surprise if Porter started this season and boosted those numbers with more playing time. He's only 21 years old and figures to be a key part of the organization's future alongside 2021 No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green.

It seems as though Porter is happy with his situation as well.