Amid the ongoing uncertainties about his status, Michael Porter Jr. isn’t ruling out a possibility to return this season for the Denver Nuggets.
The promising wingman, who remains on the sidelines since December because of his long-time back issues, is still hopeful that he’ll be able to complete his recovery with no further setbacks.
“Right now, I’m taking it game by game. I’m not ruling anything out,” Porter told ESPN’s Andscape, via insider Marc J. Spears. “This is a thing I don’t ever want to deal with again, so I’m just taking my time. … I’m playing it game by game. Every morning I wake up and I know I’m feeling good. Every day I’m getting closer.”
After Porter Jr. took a medical surgery last year to address his lower back, teammate and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic had a challenging 2021-2022 season carrying the team’s entire offensive system. With score-first guard Jamal Murray also out and recovering his ACL since last season, the Nuggets still shockingly maintained their competitive position behind their Serbian superstar’s leadership and wonders.
The Nuggets had an initial optimism about their further contention when various reports have detailed that Porter Jr. would be able to return in the late quarter of this season. But these hopes were squashed when the 24-year-old cager experienced a complication in his rehabilitation.
“I was feeling pretty good. Feeling ready to go. I was ready to step back up. Just got a tiny bit sore, so I realize about a month ago that I was good, but I was pushing myself too hard to get back,” he said about the setback he had. “I can do anything. I have no restrictions. But when I got back to playing full speed and doing everything, that’s when I just got a little sore.
“So, I just decided that if I feel perfect, I’m going to come back. If not, I’m going to take my time.”
With Denver starting up their title journey this season against an imposing opponent in the Golden State Warriors, Porter Jr.’s offensive tools could have been a huge help to aid his team. Despite a usually productive night by Jokic, the Nuggets weren’t able to match up the suffocating firepower of the Dubs as they fell in Game 1 in San Francisco. As such, questions are still there if the former college standout from Missouri will be able to suit up in the playoffs.
At the end of the day, Porter Jr. isn’t rushing the process he is taking to make a comeback. In the long-term picture, his availability will always matter the most.
“I love basketball and I’m putting my all into rehab,” he said. “I’d rather be putting my all on the court than rehab, but it’s there. It’s all a good chance to grow. Some days I can look at the positive. Some days I be stuck in the negative. But I’m trying to stay positive rather than the negative.
“People have counted me out before. I’m going to be back and better. It’s just a matter of time. People are caught up in the here and now. But this is not the last of me. I’ve been through this. I’m feeling good. I’ll be back better than ever. I have no doubt in my mind.”