Michael Porter Jr.’s troubling back injury situation catches Josh Kroenke’s attention

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. played just nine games in the 2021-22 season due to more back problems, which have plagued him since his college days. There was some hope that Porter would return to play towards the end of the season after undergoing another back surgery, but that never materialized.

On Friday, Nuggets President Josh Kroenke spoke to the media about Porter and Tim Connelly’s departure to the Minnesota Timberwolves, among other things. On Porter’s front, Kroenke gave a rather revealing view of his status:

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Porter had back issues in his lone season at Missouri that sidelined him for most of the year. He dropped to 14th overall in the 2018 NBA draft, then did not play in his first NBA season due to back surgery. After showing flashes the following season, he then broke out by posting 19.0 points per game in 2020-21.

That great season and Porter’s star potential resulted in the Nuggets signing him to a five-year contract worth over $172 million, with over $145 million guaranteed. This despite only one season of top-flight play and the troubling history of back problems, which then immediately cropped up last season.

If the Nuggets are worried about Porter’s back injury issues, they should also be worried about that huge contract they gave him. If he never reaches his potential because of this, that’s a problem when it comes to building the roster. It will become even more problematic if he doesn’t even address his game from the 2020-21 season. He was clearly a shell of himself in the nine games he played in 2021-22.

Denver can only hope Porter’s latest surgery has fixed the problem and it won’t be a long-term problem. Backs are tricky, though, and that’s going to be something to watch as his career progresses.

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