How Ja Morant's antics illustrate growth and maturity from Rockets' Kevin Porter Jr.

Houston Rockets v Memphis Grizzlies
Houston Rockets v Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages

When the Houston Rockets acquired Kevin Porter Jr., it was a low-risk high-reward move. The Rockets essentially gave away a pair of 1991 dusty, junior-varsity Converse gym shoes in exchange for Porter, a talented guard/forward who was only in his second season at the time.

Porter came with off-the-court baggage, of course, which is why he was even available. So much, in fact, that the Cleveland Cavaliers were on the cusp of releasing him altogether, as they had come to the realization that he was past the point of no return, as it pertained to his behavior and lack of professionalism. 

Porter was away from basketball for what the team described as personal reasons, which included a bevy of items. For starters, Porter had been involved In a car accident, in which he crashed his Mercedes after admittedly drinking earlier in the night, prompting a search by law enforcement, which yielded a loaded handgun and a small amount of marijuana.

During that same season, Porter drew the attention of the basketball world after several of social media posts, stating "do you ever wish to see the end of time" and "I'm fine. Been thru my worse times already, can't get worse than what I already been thru. Love & Thank you."

Porter and his sister were later accused of assaulting and striking two women in the face, with the talented guard reportedly going so far as to rip out one woman's hair weave. Porter also got into it with Cavs officials in the infamous food-throwing incident, in which Porter felt disrespected when Cavs GM Koby Altman moved Porter's locker to the wall where the younger, less prominent players' lockers were.

The Cavs ultimately decided to cut their losses and move on from the talented-but-troubled Porter. The Rockets banked on being able to help Porter, due to the presence of John Lucas, who has developed a reputation in the sports world of being able to help athletes with challenges and issues derived outside of the playing surface.

How Ja Morant's antics illustrate growth and maturity from Rockets' Kevin Porter Jr.

Through three seasons in Houston, Porter has been a model citizen off the court, outside of a fight at the Booby Trap on the River strip club in Miami, in which he reportedly saved then teammate Sterling Brown's life, which drew the attention of Memphis Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant. 

Morant and Porter Jr. came from differing backgrounds, as Morant was viewed as a model citizen throughout college, whereas Scoot was suspended and nearly kicked off the team at USC. But both players faced similar circumstances after entering the NBA, as Morant has developed a penchant for firearms.

Morant was involved in several incidents, one in a Memphis mall in which a security guard alleges that Morant threatened his life. The 23-year-old Morant was also involved in an alleged incident following a game against the Indiana Pacers, in which acquaintances of Morant approached the Pacers team bus in an aggressive manner, while an SUV in which Morant was riding in reportedly beamed a red laser on members of the Pacers' traveling party.

Morant was suspended during the 2022-23 season after an Instagram Live post in a Denver strip club exhibited Morant holding a handgun, which Morant denied was his. Less than two months later, Morant was suspended yet again, after yet another Instagram Live post in which Morant brandished yet another firearm while riding in a car with an acquaintance and listening to rapper NBA YoungBoy.

Morant's off the court antics have displayed the growth and maturity of Porter Jr. and have exhuded a tale of two opposites, as one has continued to rack up more incidents, while the other has seemingly gotten his act together, or at least more than Scoot's Cavs days. Sure, there was the incident during the 2021-22 season in which Scoot left a game and went home at halftime (which led to KPJ getting suspended), but there haven't been any other suspension-worthy incidents from Porter.

In fact, Porter Jr. landed a $63 million contract extension from the Rockets, with the franchise rewarding the talented wing for his ability to get his act together, which he attributed to the resources invested in him by the franchise. On the other hand, Morant will have to await his fate, as the Grizzlies just announced his suspension on Sunday, due to the fact that the latest incident took place over the weekend.

It's safe to say that the Rockets are happy to be on the opposite end of the spectrum, so to speak, as it pertains to Porter Jr.'s battles and challenges off-the-court, unlike the Memphis Grizzlies. Kudos to Scoot for seemingly getting his life together.