Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. has nerve issue that could jeopardize season, sources say

PHOENIX – Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is dealing with a nerve issue in his back that could jeopardize his season, league sources told The Denver Post.

The Nuggets have been vague about specifics of the injury and when Porter might be expected back. They have given him a timeline of a week to show improvements before considering other treatment options. Another back surgery is a possibility, sources said.

Porter botched a layup attempt in the first quarter against Houston on Nov. 6, exacerbating a back injury that he’s had all season. He has not played since then.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after Sunday’s loss to Phoenix that Porter was in Florida away from the team. A league source said he was seeking more opinions on how to treat his injury. Since tweaking his back more than two weeks ago, Porter has been getting daily treatment in an effort to strengthen the area of the injury, sources said.

Porter, 23, has already had two back surgeries. The first came during his lone college season at Missouri and kept him out around four months. The second came after the Nuggets drafted him with the No. 14 pick in the 2018 draft. Porter missed his entire rookie season as a result.

Porter’s pronounced struggles throughout the first nine games of the season were, at least in part, because of his balky back. Nuggets guard Austin Rivers said recently Porter had been playing through injury all season.

“He’s 23 years old,” Rivers said last week. “He’s gotta take care of himself and get himself right physically and that way mentally he can come to the court playing the way that we know he can play. He’s playing hurt this whole season. It’s hard to do that. Hopefully, he comes back soon because he’s a huge part of our team.”

The Nuggets signed Porter to a five-year max contract in late September. A large portion of the contract – $145 million – is guaranteed.

Through nine games this season, Porter was averaging just 9.9 points on only 36% shooting from the field. He was connecting on only 21% of his 3-pointers so far this season, too.

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