The trade that sent Jordan Clarkson to the Utah Jazz before Christmas was surprising to many, but he was reportedly made expendable because of the emergence of Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kevin Porter Jr.
According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Porter’s development had a huge impact on the Cavs’ decision to pull the trigger.
“The Cavs know they will miss Clarkson’s experience, offensive exploits and improved defense,” wrote Fedor. “It wasn’t easy to trade him. He was an integral component of Cleveland’s bench and a staple in many of the team’s most successful five-man groupings. But sending Clarkson to Utah, where he gets a chance to play on a potential playoff contender, was, in many ways, about Porter, the promising 19-year-old rookie whose early impact helped make Clarkson expendable.
“Drafted 30th overall, the final piece of Cleveland’s 2019 draft class, Porter’s continued development eventually had to step to the forefront. His time is now.”
Porter’s averages of 8.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game don’t necessarily jump off the page, but he has the potential to become a special player in time. Clarkson’s presence may have been limiting the rookie from reaching his potential.
Moreover, it was widely assumed that Clarkson would leave the Cavs as a free agent by the time the 2020 offseason rolled around.
“Unlike Clarkson, who was likely going to leave as an unrestricted free agent following this season, Porter is one of the team’s building blocks,” Fedor added. “Teammates, coaches and members of the front office have raved about his talent for months, and Porter continues to show flashes of possibly being able to change the view of this rebuild.”
The University of Southern California product could become a more consistent offensive force off the Cavs’ bench even before his rookie season is over now that Clarkson is no longer around.
Don’t be surprised to see Porter among the league’s top rookie scorers in the coming months.