Michael Porter Jr. Will Be Out For The ‘Foreseeable Future’ With A Back Injury

The Denver Nuggets escaped with a narrow win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday but, in the first half, standout forward Michael Porter Jr. was forced to the bench after just seven minutes of on-court action. The 23-year-old Porter Jr. was then listed as out with “low back pain” in advance of Denver’s game against the Miami Heat on Monday, leading to head coach Michael Malone being asked about Porter Jr.’s status before tip-off. Within that availability, Malone’s comments were ominous in nature, indicating that Porter Jr. will be out “for the foreseeable future,” even while acknowledging that he could be “back in a week.”

Porter Jr. has endured two back surgeries in his young career, adding another layer of complication to the proceedings. It is too early to know if the issues are related, but Porter Jr. has also struggled mightily in the early portion of the season. After a breakout 2020-21 campaign in which he averaged 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game with elite-level shooting efficiency, Porter Jr. is shooting just 35.9 percent from the floor and 20.8 percent from three-point range through nine games. That standout 2020-21 season also paved the way to Porter Jr. inking a nine-figure contract extension with the Nuggets.

That small sample size is not necessarily indicative of ongoing struggles, but Porter Jr.’s back could also be a potential explanation. At the very least, this development is disconcerting for the Nuggets, particularly as they navigate the early portion of the season without Jamal Murray. The hope would be that this is a blip on the radar and he could return quickly, but it is too early to tell, as Malone noted with as much clarity as he could.