Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is progressing to be cleared to make contact on the field over the next week, paving the way for him to return to the roster in March, his agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, at ESPN Sunday.
Porter underwent lumbar spine surgery three months ago, a procedure that has allowed him to return to the floor moving and shooting without pain in recent weeks. Once Porter is cleared for contact, it’s expected to be just one last build until he returns in March.
The impact of a Porter return to the Nuggets (35-25), who moved up to sixth in the Western Conference without forward and guard Jamal Murray, could be significant with Nikola Jokic chasing rewards Consecutive MVPs. There’s still hope that Murray — who suffered a torn ACL last season — can also make a comeback ahead of the playoffs.
Porter, 23, averaged 19 points on 54% shooting, including 44.5% shooting from 3 points. He was one of five NBA players to average 15 points on 50% shooting from the field and 40% on 3 for the 2020-21 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
This season, struggling with a back injury, he had averaged just 9.9 points before playing his last game before surgery on November 6.
Porter signed a five-year, $172.5 million contract extension this offseason. It was his third back surgery since November 2017, during his freshman year at Missouri.