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There’s A Reason The Rockets Think They Can Trade Kevin Porter Jr.

2:42 PM EDT on September 14, 2023

Kevin Porter Jr. during a Rockets game
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

We do like to have our fun with Shams Charania and his pretzeled syntax, but there was no ambiguity when he offered this up in The Athletic yesterday:

The backlash was instantaneous and widespread, and all surrounded the essential notion that anyone who would trade for Kevin Porter, Jr., after he was arrested for allegedly beating and strangling his girlfriend, Kysre Gondrezick, is at best an idiot and at worst an abettor of evil. This is difficult to interpret any other way, and the general agreement on the matter was a rarity in the social bilepit that is Twitter.

But here's the thing. Charania isn't entirely foolish here, certainly not when one considers the long history of dreadful miscreants in every sport getting moved to a new team eager to take on the job of pretending to cure them in exchange for points, assists, yards, goals or choose-the-counting-mechanism. It seems that the details surrounding the arrest would deter even the most morality-compromised roster-builder from taking on Porter and his various violent demons.

We know better, though. Sports can and often does redefine the concept of amorality in search of a short-term gain that usually isn't realized. Charania knows this, and when (we presume) the Houston Rockets started hitting the phones, they knew it, too. They were hoping, perhaps against hope, that some team somewhere would take on what Porter brings because that's what history tells them will happen. Doing that business would allegedly net the team taking Porter some draft choices in exchange for ... well, for taking Porter, but it does force the question, "How badly do you need draft choices?" The answer only has to be "very badly" one time for the Rockets to do what we all want to think is the unthinkable.

That's the longshot the Rockets are taking, as cynical as it seems, because cynicism is always the short money play. The untradeable player almost doesn't exist as a result, not even someone as seemingly nightmarish as Porter. You'd like this depressing truth to be false, but that's not the way to bet. One can hope that the Rockets can't find a trade partner because nobody should want to take on Porter no matter how many other assets come with him, but everyone has a price even for the thing they want least in the world. It's why the Rockets made the calls in the first place, and why they wont stop until they can be convinced that there are not enough draft choices on the planet to make this deal palatable.

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