Report: Nuggets’ Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season following back surgery

Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz
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The basketball gods are taking out their anger on Denver.

After picking up Aaron Gordon at the deadline last season, the Nuggets looked like title contenders. Then Jamal Murray went down with a torn ACL, destroying those hopes. Coming into this season, if Nikola Jokic was himself, if Murray got close to his old self by the end of the season, and if Michael Porter Jr. could build off his playoff performance — 17.4 points per game, 39.7% shooting from 3 — the Nuggets could be in the mix in the West.

Now comes the news Nuggets fans have feared — Porter Jr. is about to have back surgery (again) and is likely done for the season. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news and Michael Singer of the Denver Post — who has been on this from the start — confirmed it.

This will be Porter Jr.’s third back surgery before age 24. He was a top-five talent but slid down the 2018 NBA Draft to the Nuggets at No. 14 because of medical red flags about his back. He had a microdiscectomy that forced him to miss all but three games of his one season at Missouri. The Nuggets then sat him his entire first season after the draft following a second back surgery. Now this.

The back issues were clearly bothering Porter from the start of the season; he averaged just 9.9 points a game on 35.9% shooting overall and 20.8% from 3.

It’s a brutal grind for Porter Jr., a gym rat who now stares at a third rehab from back surgery. Denver signed Porter to a max contract extension last offseason, five years at $172 million, with $145 million of it guaranteed. They need him back and healthy, that is not easy production or potential to replace.

Hopefully, by then the basketball gods will have turned their attention away from the Nuggets.