Nuggets Rumors

Nuggets Sign Davon Reed

DECEMBER 4: Reed has officially signed, the team’s PR department tweets.

DECEMBER 2: The Nuggets plan to sign forward Davon Reed via the hardship exception, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The exception allows a team to add a 16th player to its standard “15-man” roster without waiving anyone.

Reed has been playing for the team’s new G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold. Reed has NBA experience as a 2017 second-round pick. He appeared in 21 games for Phoenix during the 2017/18 season and 1o more for Indiana the following season. In seven games with the Gold, Reed has averaged 12.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 3.8 APG.

The Nuggets have been decimated in recent days by injuries and COVID-19 issues. Michael Porter Jr. underwent back surgery on Wednesday and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Jamal Murray and PJ Dozier are also sidelined with long-term injuries. Austin Rivers, Bones Hyland and Bol Bol are currently out of action after being placed under the league’s health and safety protocols.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted (Twitter link), the Nuggets were able to apply for the hardship exception immediately since they had at least one player test positive for COVID-19 and three other players who have already missed three games with an injury and are deemed out for at least another two weeks.

Typically, NBA teams aren’t permitted to sign players to 10-day contracts until January 5, but the league tweaked its rules last season to allow them before then as long as they’re completed using the hardship exception. As such, Reed figures to get a 10-day deal.

Bol Bol Enters Health And Safety Protocols

A third Nuggets player has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, as forward Bol Bol has joined Austin Rivers and Bones Hyland, a league source tells Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter links). According to Singer, Bol is expected to miss several games.

When a player is immediately said to be out for several games, it generally means he has tested positive for COVID-19. In that scenario, the player would be sidelined for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart.

However, initial reports on Hyland on Wednesday also said he’d miss several games, and he was later revealed to only be a close contact of someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, having reportedly not tested positive himself.

Between injuries and COVID-related absences, the Nuggets are getting awfully shorthanded. In addition to Rivers, Hyland, and Bol being unavailable, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and PJ Dozier are out with long-term injuries.

Bol, 22, has only logged 47 total minutes in 10 games for Denver this season, but he could’ve had an opportunity to earn more minutes in the short term, with the team missing so many players.

Nuggets Notes: Rivers, MPJ, G League, Hardship Exception

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers spoke to his son, Nuggets guard Austin Rivers, about how he was feeling after testing positive for COVID-19, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Doc relayed that Austin said he felt fine yesterday, “and then today he felt terrible,” Doc said.

In a follow-up tweet from Mizell, Doc mentioned that Austin was vaccinated. He says his son will be okay, but he’s worried that so many players are getting sick.

[Austin] said, ‘I’ve never felt like this before.’ He’ll be good, but a lot of guys (are getting sick). I’m worried again. Let’s see if we can get through this,” Doc said.

Rookie Bones Hyland was deemed a close contact of someone who tested positive and is also in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

The Nuggets have been devastated by injuries this season and lost tonight in Orlando, 108-103. They are now 10-11.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • Michael Porter Jr. underwent back surgery on Wednesday and his agent said it was very successful, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “They went into surgery hoping to find exactly what they found,” agent Mark Bartelstein, told The Denver Post. “It went great. He can already feel a difference.”
  • With so many players injured and sidelined due to COVID-19, coach Michael Malone said he talked to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly about calling up a player from the G League, per Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Former NBA players Nik Stauskas and Lance Stephenson are members of Denver’s G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, and could be candidates to receive a promotion.
  • The Nuggets can apply for a hardship exception due to tweaked rules related to COVID-19, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. In a follow-up tweet, Marks provides additional details about what using the exception would entail, if granted.

Nuggets’ Austin Rivers, Bones Hyland Enter Protocols

3:41pm: Hyland hasn’t tested positive for COVID-19 and is in the protocols because he was a close contact of someone who did, tweets Singer. Hyland remains out for the short term, but his absence likely won’t last as long as Rivers’ unless his situation changes.

9:46am: Hyland has also entered the health and safety protocols and – like Rivers – is expected to miss several games, tweets Singer. According to Singer, the belief is that no other Nuggets players will have to join Rivers and Hyland in the protocols.

With Rivers and Hyland sidelined, Monte Morris, Campazzo, and Will Barton figure to play increased roles, with Howard a candidate to enter the regular rotation.

9:04am: Nuggets guard Austin Rivers is the latest NBA player to enter the league’s health and safety protocols and is expected to miss several games, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Although Charania’s report doesn’t confirm whether Rivers has contracted COVID-19, a player who enters the protocols and is immediately ruled out for “several” games has generally tested positive for the coronavirus.

Rivers, 29, has played a regular role off the bench for Denver so far this season, averaging 17.4 minutes per contest in 18 games (three starts). He has put up career-worst numbers of 3.9 PPG on .346/.271/.500 in the early going.

Despite Rivers’ struggles, it’s bad news for the Nuggets that they’ll lose yet another piece of their rotation. Denver got a boost earlier in the week when Nikola Jokic and Bones Hyland returned to action, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes, but the team is still missing Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and PJ Dozier due to long-term injuries. JaMychal Green is day-to-day with an elbow issue.

If Rivers has tested positive for COVID-19, he’ll remain sidelined for at least 10 days, or until he returns consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. The Nuggets may lean more on Facundo Campazzo and Hyland in Rivers’ absence, with two-way player Markus Howard also a candidate to earn minutes.

Michael Porter Jr. Undergoes Back Surgery, Expected To Miss Rest Of Season

DECEMBER 1: Porter underwent lumbar spine surgery on Wednesday at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas, the team announced in a press release. He has been ruled out indefinitely.

NOVEMBER 29: Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is undergoing surgery on his lower back and will be ruled out indefinitely, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). The procedure is expected to take place on Wednesday.

While Wojnarowski says a timeline for Porter’s return will be determined after the surgery, Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) reports that the 23-year-old is expected to miss the rest of the 2021/22 season.

A recent report indicated that Porter, who is dealing with a nerve issue in his back, wanted to avoid going under the knife again. However, Charania says Porter and the team ultimately decided to take a “big-picture approach” to his health, with the young forward’s five-year, maximum-salary extension set to go into effect in 2022/23.

Porter previously underwent two surgeries on his back — one during his first and only college season, and the other prior to his rookie season in 2018, which delayed his NBA debut by a year.

Those back issues caused his draft stock to drop, allowing the Nuggets to nab him with the No. 14 overall pick in ’18. Denver appeared to be reaping the benefits of rolling the dice on Porter when he enjoyed a breakout season in 2020/21, averaging 19.0 PPG and 7.3 RPG on .542/.445/.791 shooting in 61 games (31.3 MPG).

However, MPJ battled back pain in his first nine games this season before the injury forced him to the sidelines — he posted just 9.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG on .359/.308/.556 shooting in 29.4 minutes per contest. Having already invested significant money in the former Missouri Tiger, the Nuggets will be counting on him to make a full recovery, and the expectation is that will happen, according to Wojnarowski.

The injury-plagued Nuggets will now be without three key players for the foreseeable future. Jamal Murray continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered in the spring, while PJ Dozier recently sustained a torn ACL of his own. Nikola Jokic has also recently missed time with a wrist ailment, though he’s expected to return to action soon.

Denver will likely apply for a disabled player exception in the wake of Porter’s surgery. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), a DPE would be worth about $2.6MM (half of Porter’s 2021/22 salary) and the Nuggets are only currently about $1.9MM below the tax line, without an open roster spot, so its usefulness would be limited.

Cousins Worked Out For Nuggets

  • The Nuggets, who have been decimated by injuries, worked out DeMarcus Cousins last week, Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated tweets. Cousins opted to sign a non-guaranteed deal with Bucks. Nikola Jokic has been dealing with a wrist injury and JaMychal Green is his primary backup.

Nuggets Notes: Injuries, Losing Streak, Hyland, Nnaji, Cancar, Bol

The Nuggets have had a run of bad luck over the past several months. They looked like a championship-caliber team last season, and then playoff star Jamal Murray tore his ACL in April.

Michael Porter Jr. looked very out of sorts to start the season. It turns out he was dealing with a nerve issue in his back, and he might be out for the season.

Despite losing two of their three best players, the Nuggets started the season 9-4 after reeling off five straight home wins. Two games later, MVP Nikola Jokic suffered a wrist injury.

A few games after that, with their top three players all sidelined, backup wing PJ Dozier suffered a torn ACL that will sideline him for the remainder of the season. Dozier was one of the team’s best and most versatile defenders.

The Nuggets now sit at 9-10 after losing six in a row. Jokic has missed the past four games, and it’s not clear when he’ll return. With the string of bad luck, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post wonders what the team’s next steps should be.

Kiszla opines that veterans Jeff Green, JaMychal Green, and Facundo Campazzo, all 30-plus years old, are not the future of the team, and coach Michael Malone should trust in Denver’s player development and give the young players a chance to play meaningful minutes.

He states that rookie Bones Hyland, currently sidelined with a sprained ankle, should have a significant role upon his return. He also thinks young forwards Zeke Nnaji (who’s also dealt with an ankle sprain) and Vlatko Cancar should get a chance to prove themselves as NBA players, instead of defaulting those minutes to the veterans.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • In a mailbag Q&A for The Denver Post, Mike Singer answers several questions about the team. He says 7’2″ center Bol Bol doesn’t have the trust of Malone, which is why he remains stuck on the bench despite all the injuries. One major reason for that is the lack of hustle from Bol in the few times he’s received opportunities. Singer agrees with Kiszla that Nnaji should get more of an opportunity, and is curious how Lance Stephenson might fit defensively if he gets called up from Denver’s G League team at some point.
  • Within the same column, Singer says there’s still a lot of unknowns about Porter’s back injury, but he does know that MPJ is trying to avoid having another back surgery. Both Kiszla and Singer agree that tanking isn’t an option for the Nuggets with Jokic in the middle of his prime.
  • The defense has collapsed during the losing streak, Singer writes in a separate article. The team is preaching a defense-first mindset with so many important offensive players out. Singer states that the team desperately misses Jokic’s high defensive IQ and MPJ’s length and rebounding. Malone jokingly said Jokic should receive award consideration for something he’s not known for. “In the last six games, I know for a fact we’re the 30th-ranked defense in the NBA,” Malone said. “And that is a far cry from the defense that we started the year off playing. And that’s why … I think Nikola (Jokic) might be Defensive Player of the Year.”

Nuggets’ PJ Dozier Out For Season With Torn ACL

5:51pm: Dozier suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

6:48am: Nuggets wing PJ Dozier had to be carried off the court on Tuesday after landing awkwardly late in the first quarter of Denver’s loss to Portland. The team hasn’t yet provided an official update on what was diagnosed as a left knee injury, but there’s concern that Dozier’s season is in jeopardy, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Sources tell Wojnarowski that, after conducting initial imaging on Tuesday night, the Nuggets fear Dozier tore his left ACL. The injury will be evaluated further on Wednesday to determine the severity.

If today’s testing confirms that Dozier tore his ACL, it would be a brutal blow for both him and the team, which had relied on the 25-year-old as one of its go-to players off the bench. In 18 games so far this season, Dozier has averaged 5.4 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 18.9 minutes per contest.

The banged-up Nuggets are already dealing with a series of injuries to star players. Jamal Murray is recovering from an ACL tear of his own and will be out until the spring; Michael Porter Jr. is out indefinitely due to a nerve issue in his back; and Nikola Jokic has missed the team’s last three games due to a right wrist sprain.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes (via Twitter), Dozier’s $1.91MM salary for 2021/22 isn’t yet fully guaranteed, but it would become guaranteed if he’s ruled out for the season. Denver could also apply for a disabled player exception in that scenario, though such an exception – which would be worth half of Dozier’s salary – would have little practical value.

A team can apply for a hardship exception, opening up a temporary 16th roster spot, if it has at least four players who have missed at least three games due to injury or illness and are expected to be sidelined for at least two more weeks. However, while Murray, Porter, and Dozier appear likely to be out for the long term, Jokic should be back as soon as Friday and it’s unclear if Bones Hyland (right ankle sprain) is at risk of missing multiple weeks.

Keeler: Extending Michael Porter Jr. Early Was A Mistake

  • In a column for The Denver Post, Sean Keeler criticizes the Nuggets for their decision to sign Michael Porter Jr. to a rookie scale extension in the offseason, arguing that it was an unnecessary move for a team that can’t afford to swing big and miss. If the Nuggets hadn’t extended Porter, who is out indefinitely with a back injury, he would’ve been on track to reach restricted free agency in 2022.

Jamal Murray Feels "Great" As He Ramps Up Workouts

  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said on Instagram Live over the weekend that he’s feeling “great” as he ramps up his pre-game workouts in his recovery from ACL surgery, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The hope is that Murray will be able to return before the end of the season.