Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. enjoyed a breakout 2020-21 NBA season and averaged 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The 22-year-old can become a restricted free agent after the 2021-22 campaign, but Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly suggested Friday the club won’t let negotiations come to that.
“We know how bad he wants (a title). We want it just as bad. … He’s basketball-obsessed,” Connelly said of Porter, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “His work ethic is an A-plus. It’s fun when you see guys like that where he had to battle through adversity and all the injuries. We’ll sit down with Michael’s representation. Our M.O. is when we can, we try to lock guys up and reward them for what they’ve done.
“We’ve had a lot of luck getting things done early rather than later, and I think it’s helped with our culture. These guys are colleagues, they’re not assets. The more proactive we can be with trying to build a sustainable roster, the better.”
Porter’s history of back issues will likely keep him from putting pen to paper on a max extension worth more than $160 million in total money. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks recently explained, however, the Nuggets can add language to a contract that would protect them if Porter misses significant future games or minutes due to injuries over the next handful of years. Denver can also offer the forward a non-max contract that includes incentive-laden bonuses to make up for cash not initially guaranteed.
Singer adds that “Connelly and his staff want to reach an early contract extension with Porter,” which hints Denver won’t shop the young talent on the trade market this summer when his value is undeniably high.