Sobering Shams tweet shows Clippers' new signing is a huge gamble

The Clippers signed Kevin Porter Jr., but at what cost?
Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

The LA Clippers are giving a once-heralded young scorer a second chance. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the franchise signed Kevin Porter Jr. to a two-year deal a year after being unceremoniously exiled from the NBA. 

The former first-rounder burst onto the scene as a rookie with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2019, flashing a natural scoring prowess and a shifty handle. A locker room outburst led to his eventual falling out, and the team promptly dealt him to the Houston Rockets. Porter Jr. thrived as the primary option for a franchise in total disarray.

Despite no coherent offensive scheme and limited attention to detail on defense, his sweet stroke and elite burst off the dribble were enough to turn heads. With fellow promising youngsters Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun alongside him, it seemed like Houston had its foundation for the future. 

In September 2023, the NYPD arrested Porter Jr. for alleged assault. The Rockets shipped him to the Oklahoma City Thunder a month later, who promptly waived him. Temporarily blackballed, Porter Jr. took his talents overseas and signed a deal with PAOK of the Greek Basket League. He unsurprisingly dominated his competition and recorded the first postseason triple-double in the league's history. 

The Kevin Porter Jr. deal is risky for the Clippers

As Charania laid out in a tweet following the announcement of his new deal, Porter Jr. reached a third-degree reckless assault misdemeanor plea in January. After completing a court-ordered program, his plea will shift to not guilty, and he will have no criminal record. 

The franchise is familiar with trying to rehabilitate players' careers in recent times. After the San Antonio Spurs cut Josh Primo for allegedly exposing himself to multiple women, the Clippers eventually gave him a two-way deal. Kai Jones was signed months after the Charlotte Hornets dumped him for a series of bizarre social media posts. With an unrelenting desire to contend for a title, the club is taking chances on guys with serious character concerns.

What kind of message does that send to other players on the open market who might have Los Angeles atop their list of preferred destinations? Even if Porter Jr. is a bonified All-Star, is it worth the risk and the unnecessarily bad optics that come with his presence? How will others on this squad react to his addition? Hopefully, Lawrence Frank and Steve Ballmer had these questions and plenty more in mind when making this decision.