Woj: Jamal Murray Has to Make Decision to Play, Nuggets Content on G Missing Playoffs

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 17, 2022

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray cups his hand to hear the cheers after he hit a 3-point-basket against the Orlando Magic late in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 4, 2021, in Denver. The Nuggets won 119-109. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray holds all of the cards regarding his return to the court, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wojarowski said Sunday on SportsCenter that Murray has been cleared and the team is willing to let him choose whether he plays: 

"He has been scrimmaging with the Nuggets for a couple of weeks now. He's looked good according to all eyes on him in Denver, but he's going to have to make a decision that he's going to play in this series. ... But for Jamal Murray, again, a little like Ben Simmons, the Nuggets hope if he were to play could they get 15 minutes out of him to start, could he be somebody off their bench who could come in and start to do a little more each time out. But the Nuggets are also content to allow Jamal Murray to simply just come back for training camp next year off this injury."

The Denver floor general suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee against the Golden State Warriors on April 12, 2021. The team announced on April 21 that Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed reconstructive surgery on the ACL and Murray would be out indefinitely.

It's been a waiting game ever since.

In a March 2 interview with Adam Caparell of Complex, Murray would not commit to a timeline while providing an update.

"I’m too far to tell. I’m obviously progressing every week. But I have my bad weeks where I can’t do the simple stuff and then I’ll have weeks where I feel like I can jump out of the gym. It’s just getting the stress pain down. Adding tolerance right now and trying to ramp it up. I don’t know. I’m in a good spot, I just don’t know the exact time right now."

Denver President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly provided a hopeful update on April 13, three days before the Nuggets' first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors started:

Harrison Wind @HarrisonWind

Tim Connelly on <a href="https://twitter.com/AltitudeSR?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AltitudeSR</a> says Jamal Murray’s in the “red zone” in terms of his return and whether or not he plays this season is “up to him.” A return in the middle of Denver’s first round series is a possibility too, per Connelly. MPJ remains behind Murray in his rehab.

Murray was enjoying the best season of his five-year NBA career before the injury, averaging 21.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals. He shot a career-high 47.7 percent overall (40.8 percent from three-point range). That campaign helped Denver earn the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

The former Kentucky star broke out into superstardom during the previous year's playoffs, helping guide Denver to the Western Conference Finals after thrilling seven-game series wins over the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 26.5 points and 6.6 assists during that postseason.

Without Murray, the Nuggets have rolled with Monte Morris, who averaged 12.6 points and 4.4 assists this season. Argentine floor general Facundo Campazzo has backed him up and averaged 5.1 points and 3.4 assists. 

Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland has also come on strong near the end of his rookie year and finished the season with 10.1 points in just 19.0 minutes per game.