Michael Porter Jr.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Lee, Mudiay, Porter

The Knicks have treated the re-signing of Kristaps Porzingis as inevitable, given his pending restricted free agency, but the idea that Porzingis will have no leverage in the process is “bogus,” according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, who points out that star players can “maneuver themselves out of undesirable situations” even when they’re under contract.

Even if Porzingis doesn’t go the extreme route – accepting his one-year qualifying offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2020 – he could make things difficult on the Knicks by demanding a shorter-term deal (three years with a fourth-year player option) or signing an offer sheet with another club. In that scenario, the Nets would be a team to watch, per Bondy, who writes that GM Sean Marks is high on Porzingis and has a history of pursuing RFAs.

A five-year, maximum-salary deal with the Knicks would allow Porzingis to maximize his earnings and would give him long-term security. However, some people around the NBA believe the Knicks may try to include injury protection language in their offer, says Bondy. That way, if Porzingis has recurring issues related to his ACL recovery, the team would be protected to some extent. The youngster views himself as a max player though, according to Bondy, so New York could risk creating discord by offering less than that.

As we wait to see how Porzingis’ free agency plays out, here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While Enes Kanter has expressed frustration and met with GM Scott Perry about his reduced playing time, another veteran – Courtney Lee – has been taking his diminished role in stride, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Lee has been a DNP-CD in three of the Knicks’ last four games, but is keeping a positive outlook. “I believe in karma, man,” Lee said. “Not going to come in here and be negative. Not going to pout. Not going to be a distraction because you never know when something could happen, then I get out there and I just play miserable and that’s all because I wasn’t being a professional. Just stay positive and stay ready for whatever happens.”
  • In a separate Newsday story, Popper explores how Emmanuel Mudiay‘s confidence has increased since he was dealt from Denver to New York last year.
  • Within a story about Courtney Lee, Marc Berman of The New York Post provides a tidbit related to the 2018 draft, citing sources who say the Knicks passed on Michael Porter Jr. last June in part because they were told he wouldn’t play in 2018/19. However, Berman now hears there’s still a chance Porter will make his NBA debut for the Nuggets later this season.

Injury Updates: Knight, Pistons, Grizzlies, MPJ

Brandon Knight, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2016/17 season, is expected to make his Rockets debut next week, head coach Mike D’Antoni said on Tuesday evening (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com). While Knight isn’t expected to take on a major role for his new team, he could help provide some backcourt depth if James Harden, Chris Paul, or Eric Gordon are banged up, perhaps regaining some trade value if he looks good.

As the Rockets prepare to welcome Knight to the active roster, they’re dealing with another injury to a rotation player. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle relays (via Twitter), James Ennis will miss Thursday’s game and will likely remain on the shelf for a few more days due to a right hamstring issue.

As Houston looks to get healthy, here are a few more health updates from around the NBA:

  • A pair of Pistons players, Glenn Robinson III and Henry Ellenson, have been diagnosed with ankle sprains and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Ellenson had only appeared in two games this season, so his absence won’t impact the team significantly, but Robinson has started 16 games so far, averaging 16.0 MPG.
  • The Grizzlies provided updates on four players today, announcing in a press release that Dillon Brooks is expected to return by the end of the month while Chandler Parsons will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Jevon Carter and Yuta Watanabe are set to resume basketball activities within the next week, according to the club.
  • We haven’t heard much this season about Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr., who continues to recover from back surgery. However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst hears that Porter is “looking impressive” and says Denver has been surprised with how well Porter has been shooting from beyond the arc.
  • Hawks big man Miles Plumlee recently underwent a non-surgical procedure on his left knee and will be re-evaluated on December 18, according to a press release from the team.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Roberson, Nuggets, Towns

The Trail Blazers didn’t make any major roster moves this offseason, but tweaked their roster slightly by adding players like Seth Curry, Nik Stauskas, and Anfernee Simons. Head of basketball operations Neil Olshey said on Monday that he’s “happy with what we did” over the summer, though he acknowledged that Portland was outbid for six veteran free agents (Twitter link via Joe Freeman of The Oregonian).

In other Trail Blazers news, starting small forward Maurice Harkless continues to recover from arthroscopic left knee surgery, and his availability during training camp is limited (link via Freeman). Harkless said he’ll be involved in practices, but he hasn’t been cleared to play in 5-on-5 games and doesn’t think he’ll be 100% in practices.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Andre Roberson, who ruptured his left patellar tendon last season, provided an update on his recovery timetable on Monday, indicating that he expects to be cleared for contact soon and back to full speed “around December.” Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press has the details, along with the full quotes from the Thunder‘s top defender.
  • The Nuggets aren’t providing any timelines for Isaiah Thomas or Michael Porter Jr. to make their respective debuts with the club, as Matt L. Stephens of The Denver Post writes. The team sounds ready to take a cautious approach with both players. “I do not have a date right now, I’m going to take my sweet time, because I’ve rushed it before and that did not work out for me,” Thomas said of his own status. “We’re not worried about right now. We’re worried about April, worried about the playoffs and me being as healthy as I can going into that stretch. However long it takes, I’m only going to go out on the court when I can produce at a high level.”
  • After officially signing his new maximum-salary extension with the Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns spoke to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic about the deal, which he admits took “a lot longer than I expected” to get done.

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

Michael Porter Jr. Pain-Free After Second Surgery

Nuggets first-rounder Michael Porter Jr. is optimistic after his second back surgery and tells Chris Forsberg of ESPN that he hopes to be ready early in the upcoming season.

“I finally feel, like, good,” Porter said at today’s annual rookie photo shoot, expressing hope that the back issue that robbed him of most of his college career won’t do the same in his first NBA campaign.

“I don’t have a date but I’m hoping to be back for the beginning of the year. Gotta heal up, but I feel great,” he added. “I’m able to get on the court a little bit right now, do some different things. But my rehab has definitely been very conservative. They’re really taking it easy with me, being patient with me.”

Porter injured his back in his first game at Missouri and underwent a microdiscectomy in November to fix one of two bulging disks. He had another spinal surgery last month, and the Nuggets haven’t set any kind of recovery timetable after that procedure.

Porter was among the top college recruits in last year’s class and could have been a high lottery pick if he had remained healthy. However, concerns from the medical staffs of several teams that examined him caused him to slide to Denver at No. 14.

“[Doctors originally] only thought one of [the bulging disks] was symptomatic,” Porter explained. “They went in and fixed that one. Turns out that both were symptomatic. So my first surgery helped a lot but didn’t fix the entire problem. Now that they did this one, I’ve got no pain or anything. I’m excited.”

Michael Porter Jr. Undergoes Second Back Surgery

JULY 19, 1:30pm: Porter’s surgery involved the lumbar spine, and there is no timetable for him to start playing again, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

JULY 18, 9:46pm: Per Steve Aschburner of NBA.comNuggets rookie forward Michael Porter Jr., who was recently selected by Denver with the No. 14 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, had a second surgery on his back last week.

Porter, 19, who ultimately slid to the Nuggets on draft night due to worries about his ongoing back issues, first underwent back surgery in November of last year, which limited him to just three games during his freshman season at Missouri.

The latest procedure, according to Porter’s camp, has led to a greater understanding of Porter’s herniated-disks condition, thereby boosting he and his team’s confidence that he will be able to move on from the injury more quickly and begin his NBA career without having to sit out the 2018-19 season.

Per Aschburner, a spokesperson for the Nuggets declined to speak when reached for comment but did indicate that an update on Porter’s health from the team’s medical staff would be forthcoming.

As we relayed at the beginning of the month, Porter has already signed his rookie scale contract with the Nuggets, which will see him earn a salary of just over $2.41MM in his rookie season.

Michael Porter Jr. Signs Rookie Deal With Nuggets

The Nuggets have signed first-round pick Michael Porter Jr. to a rookie contract, the team announced on its website.

Porter was projected as high as No. 2 in the draft, but concerns about his the condition of his back caused him to plummet all the way to 14th. He suffered a back injury that required surgery in his first college game, then played limited minutes in a pair of SEC and NCAA tournament contests.

Porter will receive $2,411,800 as a rookie and $2,824,500 in his second season. As with all first-rounders, his contract will have two guaranteed seasons, followed by two team option years.

Northwest Rumors: Thunder, Blazers, Wolves, Nuggets

With his free agency just over a week away, the Thunder are keeping the lines of communication open with Paul George, general manager Sam Presti said on Thursday night, per Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman.

“Paul and his representation, we built a relationship built on transparency, trust and collaboration,” Presti said. “I’m happy to say that that’s continued during the period of time that the season ended to now, which I think speaks a great deal about Paul George and just who he is as a guy. It’s just how he operates. Things don’t change.”

Meanwhile, Presti confirmed that the Thunder have also been having conversations with Carmelo Anthony‘s representatives in recent weeks. Although it’s viewed as a virtual lock that Anthony will opt into the final year of his contract, Presti wasn’t willing to make any assumptions on Thursday, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes.

“I can’t speak to necessarily what he’s gonna to do with respect to the early termination option, but we have been in touch with him and tried to provide him with as much information as we can so he can make the most informed decision possible,” Presti said. “But it’s pretty well-documented, we have a lot of balls in the air, and it’s still June. It’s not even July. So, we’ll have to see what it is that he chooses to do, and we’ll continue to have conversations from there.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Following Thursday’s draft, Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said the club made an effort to use its No. 24 pick and trade exception to land an “impact rotation guy,” but couldn’t find a suitable deal (Twitter link via Joe Freeman of The Oregonian). “(This draft) wasn’t about existing players,” Olshey said, referring to the fact that no veterans were traded on Thursday. “It was about the draft.”
  • The Timberwolves were active on the phones throughout the draft considering potential trades, but ultimately decided that keeping the 20th and 48th picks was their best option, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota had spoken to the Pacers, Trail Blazers, and Hawks about moving down from No. 20, but with a run on wings happening, didn’t want to risk losing out on a player like Okogie, Krawczynski notes.
  • Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said the club had “countless” conversations about trading up in the draft, but was thrilled that Michael Porter Jr. fell to No. 14. Connelly added that the Nuggets will be cautious with Porter and won’t play him until the team is confident that he’s “perfectly healthy” (Twitter links via Gina Mizell of The Denver Post).

Draft Notes: Sixers, Magic, Doncic, Walker

The Sixers‘ coaching staff and front office had “serious conversations” about selecting Michael Porter Jr. before deciding on Mikal Bridges, tweets ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. The Sixers were intrigued by Porter’s potential to become a star, but bypassed him for a safer choice. Porter went four picks later to the Nuggets, while Bridges was traded to the Suns.

Because former president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo resigned in the wake of a controversy involving Twitter burner accounts, the Sixers are relying on a group effort between coaches and executives to decide on their picks.

There’s more from an active draft night:

  • The Magic’s selection of Mohamed Bamba at No. 6 doesn’t mean Nikola Vucevic is headed out of town, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Vucevic is heading into a contract year, making $12.75MM next season. Orlando has a potential logjam at center with Bismack Biyombo signed for $17MM next year with a $17MM player option for 2019/20. “He’s a good pick,” Vucevic said of Biyombo. “He’s talented and he’ll be a big presence.”
  • The Mavericks won’t ask Luka Doncic to go through a full summer league schedule after just finishing up his season in Europe, relays ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). “He needs a break,” said coach Rick Carlisle. The Mavs will meet soon to determine how much they want Doncic to do this summer.
  • A medical issue may have caused Lonnie Walker to drop to the Spurs at No. 18, according to Doug Gottlieb of Fox Sports Radio (Twitter link). However, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony states that health concerns regarding Walker were exaggerated and had little effect on where he was taken (Twitter link).
  • The Cavaliers are hoping to buy a pick in the second round, sources tell Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). The club can’t send out any more cash in trades during the 2017/18 league year, but could reach an agreement tonight and finalize it in July. The Cavs don’t own any picks beyond No. 8.
  • The Bulls made an effort to move up, but decided it was “too expensive,” a source tells Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Any move would have cost them the 22nd pick and future selections.

Michael Porter Jr. Slips To Nuggets At No. 14

In one of the major surprises of draft night so far, Michael Porter Jr. – who was once considered a frontrunner to be the No. 1 pick of 2018 – nearly slipped out of the lottery, going to the Nuggets at No. 14.

According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter), Denver strongly considered selecting Zhaire Smith before deciding to roll the dice on Porter.

Word began circulating hours before the draft that Porter could slide out of the top 10 due to concerns about the long-term health of his back and hip. Many teams were said to be put off by a medical report on Porter earlier this week.

As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets, at least one team’s doctors believe that Porter will require surgery on his back, and the possibility that he’d miss most or all of his rookie season was apparently enough to scare several clubs away. According to TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link), the Wizards wouldn’t have taken Porter at No. 15 if Denver had passed.

Still, Porter makes for an interesting gamble for the Nuggets, who already have several core building blocks in place. He’ll join Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Nikola Jokic as long-term cornerstones in Denver.