As if the Denver Nuggets didn’t have enough issues with All-Star guard Jamal Murray already out indefinitely with a torn ACL, things just went from bad to worse with the announcement that 23-year-old star forward Michael Porter Jr.could miss the rest of the season in order to undergo back surgery.
NBA insider Shams Charania announced the news on Twitter:
It was clear that something was off with MPJ this season, as the same wet jumper who had been terrorizing defenders since his promising rookie year in 2019-20 was nowhere to be found. (In nine games this season, he shot a putrid 36 percent from the floor.) Then earlier this month against the Houston Rockets, this happened and the talented forward has been sidelined since:
Further complicating matters is the fact that prior to the season, Porter signed a lucrative five-year, $172 million max contract in September. The outspoken—if not misguided—scorer is expected to make a full recovery, according to ESPN (though there’s currently no timetable for his return), but no team ever wants to be in a position in which one of their star players is only 23 years old and is already on their third (!!!!!!) back surgery. It also doesn’t help that Denver has lost six of their last seven games and plays in the notoriously competitive Western Conference.
So where do the Nuggets go from here?
While back surgeries aren’t necessarily the kiss of the death when it comes to NBA players, it’s difficult not to have significant concerns when it comes to Porter’s future. It wasn’t that long ago that reporter John Hollinger, who served as the Memphis Grizzlies’ vice president of basketball operations from 2012 until 2019, called Porter’s pre-draft medical report “the worst he had ever seen for a prospect.” And clearly, other teams echoed those sentiments, as Porter slid down draft boards after a team doctor for the Los Angeles Clippers declared that he “would never play basketball again.”
In the interim, Nuggets coach Mike Malone will try to work miracles with what’s left of his decimated roster (swingman P.J. Dozier is also done for the year with an ACL tear).
Get well soon, MPJ.