The Nuggets haven’t made it official yet, but it certainly appears that Monte Morris is on track to claim a spot in the team’s starting lineup while Jamal Murray recovers from ACL surgery. As Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes, head coach Michael Malone said this week that he’s “extremely confident” in Morris’ ability and wants the 26-year-old point guard to get comfortable running the first-team offense.
“It’s just a matter of (Morris) playing with aggression and confidence, playing with that attack mindset and being more vocal on the floor to run his team,” Malone said. “And that’s not easy, especially when you’re playing with the reigning MVP. And I tell him sometimes, ‘Hey, tell Nikola (Jokic) where you want him.’ I say, ‘That’s your job as a point guard,’ and I think he’s embracing that.”
There’s no set timeline for Murray’s return, and it seems unlikely that we’ll see him back on the court until at least the spring, so assuming Morris is named the Nuggets’ starting point guard, it’s a job he could hang onto all season.
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Instagram video) provides some more details on how Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. can bump the $12MM partial guarantee on the fifth year of his new contract extension to a full $39.3MM guarantee. Porter could get that full guarantee if he earns two All-Stars berths or a single All-NBA or All-Defense nod before then. He’d also get the full fifth-year amount if Denver wins a title and he meets certain games-played thresholds during that season.
- After initially arriving in Portland with less than two months left in the 2021/22 season, Norman Powell said this week that life with the Trail Blazers is “starting to feel natural and normal to me,” per Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Like some of his teammates, Powell is excited about how new head coach Chauncey Billups plans to use him. “It’s only the first two days but I’m definitely feeling included on the offensive side of the ball,” Powell said.
- New Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley said on Thursday that when he and the Clippers couldn’t agree on an extension this summer, the team asked him where else he might like to play and he put Minnesota “in my top three, my top two I believe” (link via Chris Hine of The Star Tribune). While it’s a little hard to believe Beverley was so bullish on the idea of joining a small-market team that has made the postseason just once since 2004, he expressed enthusiasm this week about being a mentor to the Wolves’ young guards and bringing some “intensity” to the team.