Kevin Porter Jr. Trade Sparks Final Roster Shuffle


Kevin Porter Jr. Trade Sparks Final Roster Shuffle

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The NBA is abuzz with roster changes. On Monday, 10 players were waived league-wide, and on Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder made a significant move, acquiring Kevin Porter Jr. and two second-round picks from the Houston Rockets, according to Yahoo Sports sources. In return, Victor Oladipo and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are headed to Houston, two players the Thunder had been exploring trade options for as they trimmed their roster to the 15-player limit by Monday’s deadline.

For the Thunder, this deal is all about the numbers. They needed to release three players before the deadline and intend to immediately waive Porter, the former 30th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, who faced assault charges in a September incident involving his girlfriend, former WNBA player Kysre Gondrezick. Houston had been trying to trade Porter in the weeks leading up to this deal, offering other teams multiple second-round picks to move him and his $15.9 million guaranteed salary for the 2023-24 season. Once he’s officially waived, Porter Jr. will be owed $1 million for the following year.

Houston faced challenges moving Porter due to the assault charges, with many teams hesitant to get involved. The Rockets held discussions with various teams, some of which required more second-round picks than the two they ultimately sent to Oklahoma City. Now, it’s expected that the Rockets will use Oladipo’s $9.5 million salary and additional second-round picks to strengthen their roster as they aim to compete in the play-in tournament this spring.

However, there is little confidence among NBA insiders that Oladipo will play a significant role in the upcoming season, given his history of injuries, including a torn patellar tendon in his left knee. In fact, Oladipo never reported to Oklahoma City after being acquired from Miami in July. So, the Thunder will have a total of four second-round picks after the dust settles, as they planned to waive Oladipo regardless.

Houston is also exploring other potential trades. They’ve discussed a deal with Detroit involving Alec Burks, a veteran with a $10.5 million salary that aligns closely with Oladipo’s. The Pistons have a new head coach, Monty Williams, who may choose to start rookie swingman Ausar Thompson and bring standout sophomore Jaden Ivey off the bench. Furthermore, Marcus Sasser, the 25th pick in the 2023 draft, has shown promise in preseason, leaving minutes to be shared among Joe Harris and Killian Hayes, as well as Monte Morris coming off the bench.

The Rockets have been in talks with the Utah Jazz about a deal that could send Talen Horton-Tucker to Houston. The Jazz have seen Kris Dunn, a former fifth overall pick, rejuvenate his career in Salt Lake City and want to give their 2023 first-round selection, Keyonte George, more opportunities to run the offense.

Additionally, sources suggest that Houston has expressed interest in veteran guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was recently traded to Portland as part of the Celtics’ acquisition of All-Star Jrue Holiday. However, discussions with the Trail Blazers have not been substantial, as Portland intends to retain Brogdon as they undergo a rebuild.

Looking ahead, there are more trade possibilities to watch. James Harden’s desire to join the Clippers remains a topic of ongoing negotiations, though there is a significant gap between the Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers in their talks. While Buddy Hield was initially considered available for trade in Indiana, few executives expect a deal to materialize before the season. It’s more likely that any trade involving Hield will come closer to the trade deadline.

One more player will need to be cut by the Thunder after Porter’s waiver, but it’s unlikely to be Dāvis Bertāns. He’s a reliable 39.8% shooter from beyond the arc and could be valuable to the Thunder, who are aspiring to be a playoff contender. With just $5 million guaranteed for the final year of Bertāns’ contract next season, he could become an appealing asset leading up to February’s trade deadline when the Thunder could absorb up to $24 million in salary, considering Bertāns’ $17 million current representation on OKC’s books.

The fate of Kevin Porter Jr. will largely depend on the legal proceedings. In New York on Monday, prosecutors dropped a second-degree assault charge against the 23-year-old former Rockets guard, who rejected a plea deal on the remaining third-degree assault charge he faces.


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