Michael Porter Jr. Eyeing March Return

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. has progressed in his rehab from lumbar spine surgery and could be cleared for on-court contact within the next week, agent Mark Bartelstein tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Porter is hoping to return to Denver’s lineup at some point in March. Wojnarowski says that once the fourth-year forward is cleared for contact, it’ll just be a matter of him going through a final ramp-up period.

However, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone cautioned fans to take the report with a grain of salt, as Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link) relays.

“I would say don’t listen to those reports. … They didn’t come from me, they didn’t come from [president of basketball operations] Tim Connelly,” Malone said. “They didn’t come from anybody within the Denver Nuggets. I would say, be careful what you listen to and what you read.”

The 23-year-old Porter underwent surgery three months ago and has played just nine games this season. He did appear in 61 games last season, averaging 19.0 points on 54% shooting from the floor and 45% shooting from three-point range.

Denver owns the sixth-best record in the Western Conference (35-25) despite Porter’s absence. The team also hopes to have Jamal Murray return from a torn ACL before the playoffs, Wojnarowski reports.

Porter signed a five-year, $172.5MM contract extension with the Nuggets last offseason. He was drafted No. 14 overall by the franchise in 2018.

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