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Michael Porter Jr. nearing on-court return, per Michael Malone

Michael Porter Jr. Nuggets COVID-19 Malone

After missing several games due to health protocols, Denver Nuggets sophomore Michael Porter Jr. is set to return very soon according to head coach Mike Malone.

Per Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports,  Malone shared that he’s looking to have Porter Jr., back by the time the Nuggets start their five-game road trip on Friday.

Porter Jr. played and started the first four games of the season before being forced to quarantine after contracting the virus himself. In those games, he averaged 19.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists across 29.3 minutes per game.

Being part of the starting five marks a huge leap in Porter Jr.’s young career. Last season, he worked his way as a critical part of the Nuggets’ lineup — a roster led by MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and rising star Jamal Murray. Not to mention that the Nuggets roster already had a strong core featuring the likes of Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, Will Barton, among others.

With Porter Jr.’s impending return, many are wondering: will he have to embrace a new role? or will he continue being the Nuggets’ starting forward? After all, NBA coaches usually need several games before coming up with a first five that they’ll stick for most if not the rest of the regular season. Malone was blunt in his response:

“I’ll be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about that,” Malone said, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “For me, we had eight games in 14 days, barely had time to breathe, so it was all about preparing for the next game… with the guys that we have.”

“We’ll figure Michael Porter out when he’s cleared and ready to come back,” Malone said.

The Nuggets will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. After which, they face the Phoenix Suns where fans could reasonably expect Porter Jr. back on the floor.