A report in late February stated that Michael Porter Jr. (back) was on track to return to action in mid-to-late March and that there was optimism in the Nuggets‘ locker room about Jamal Murray (ACL) being back in time for the playoffs too. However, nearly a month later, there’s still no clarity about when Porter and Murray might play — or even if they’ll return at all this season.
On Monday, Joe Vardon of The Athletic cited multiple team sources who said Porter is considered more likely than Murray to return this season. According to Vardon, those same sources cautioned that it’s possible neither player will be available for the playoffs.
On Tuesday, during TNT’s broadcast of the Nuggets/Clippers game, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports suggested that Murray’s rehab process has actually advanced further than Porter’s (video link via Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports).
“The rehab process hasn’t been too good up to this point for Michael Porter Jr. He’s had some ups and downs,” Haynes said. “As of now, Murray’s ahead. But I’m told both don’t have a firm timeline and the team will follow their lead as to when they feel mentally and physically ready to return.”
Following up on Haynes’ report, Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link) said on Wednesday that he spoke to someone close to Porter and asked about the odds of the forward returning this spring. According to Singer, the answer he received was “very noncommittal,” which doesn’t bode especially well with just two-and-a-half weeks left in the regular season.
Here’s more on the Nuggets:
- Zeke Nnaji is another Nugget whose status for the rest of the season is up in the air, according to Kyle Hendrickson of The Denver Post, who says the forward’s lingering knee injury might prevent him from playing again this spring. Nnaji, who had established himself as a regular part of Denver’s rotation before he went down, has appeared in just one game since February 11. “I don’t know when or if he’ll be back,” head coach Michael Malone said. “I really can’t say because I did not anticipate him being out this long. It’s unfortunate. Hopefully, we can get him back. But while he’s out, obviously, everybody else has to step up.”
- A number of Nuggets players “spoke up and aired their grievances” following Sunday’s game against Boston, which was Denver’s second consecutive loss and fourth in six games, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. According to Bones Hyland, center DeMarcus Cousins said the way the Nuggets were playing was “unacceptable.” The Nuggets responded on Tuesday with a win over the Clippers and now have a one-game lead on Minnesota for the last guaranteed playoff spot (No. 6) in the West.
- Sean Keeler of The Denver Post questions why Hyland isn’t part of more closing lineups for the Nuggets, arguing that the rookie has shown an ability to play big in big moments.