Nuggets ownership pushes in all the chips with Porter deal
The Denver Nuggets are all in this young core, or at least that’s what their new five-year deal with forward Michael Porter Jr. seems to say.
The Fan Nuggets Insider Matt Moore told “The Drive” on Monday that the club’s ownership believes Porter is a “key part” of a team looking to win a championship, and they’re putting their money where their mouth hasn’t always seemed to be.
“(There’s) a lot of money believing that this core can win a championship,” Moore said.
With Porter’s new extension, the Nuggets have their “core four” — Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon and Porter — locked up through at least the 2022-’23 season.
“You have your core. Your core is locked in place,” said “Stokley & Zach” co-host Zach Bye on Monday. “Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon and now MPJ, all on similar timelines by the way.”
Porter is 23, Murray is 24 and Jokic and Gordon are both 26.
Moore said that after Denver traded for Gordon, and before Murray was lost for the season with a torn ACL suffered in mid-April, the Nuggets were the best team in basketball.
“And that’s not my opinion,” Moore said. “That’s executives around the league. I’ve talked to people, Western Conference contenders, who have said, ‘Look, we’re worried about Denver. We’re trying to figure out how to match up with Denver.’
“Because when they’re fully healthy they’re scary. They bring a lot to the table.”
Moore also said that ownership has said it will spend money if the team can work itself into championship contention, and that they’re putting their “pocketbooks where their mouths are” in securing this young core long-term.
“I think championship aspirations, even this season, when Jamal Murray gets back, are very realistic,” Moore said.
But with championship aspirations comes championship expectations, something that could be tricky to navigate with Murray out likely until February or March.
Whether Porter can fill Murray’s shoes for the first half of the season remains to be seen, but Bye said he likes the improvement the young forward has shown since being drafted 14th overall by Denver in 2018.
“I think what Michael Porter Jr. represents to the Denver Nuggets is ceiling that is the sky; this infinite potential,” Bye said, describing the budding star as a “Kevin Durant-esque” talent.
Denver seemingly hedged its bet on Porter a bit with the extension, as it’s only worth $207 million if he makes one of the three All-NBA teams this season. Otherwise, Porter’s rookie max deal will be worth $172 million.
But it will be money well spent if it can bring Denver an NBA title.
In any case, it’s clear the Nuggets are pushing all their chips in on this young core for the foreseeable future.