Michael Porter Jr. Trade Rumors: Nuggets 'Made It Clear' PF Is Not Available

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2020

Denver Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. plays against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Michael Porter Jr. is apparently untouchable in trade talks after showcasing his potential during the 2020 NBA playoffs for the Denver Nuggets, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. 

"In talking to teams around the league, the Nuggets have made it clear: Michael Porter Jr. is not available," Windhorst said on the Hoop Collective podcast (h/t RealGM). "Do not ask."

Porter sat out his entire first season with a back injury but played well in 2019-20, averaging 9.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He took his game to the next level during the restarted season in Orlando, Florida, averaging 22.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in seven seeding games.

He contributed 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in the Nuggets' 19-game postseason during the team's run to the Western Conference Finals.

While the Nuggets relied heavily on Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic during their playoff run, Porter emerged as a reliable tertiary option while making some big shots along the way:

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He was a valuable part of the team overcoming a 3-1 deficit to beat the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Denver now has an exciting core with Murray, Jokic and Porter all under team control through at least 2022.

Porter, the No. 14 pick of the 2018 draft after an injury-shortened college career at Missouri, represents excellent value with just a $3.55 million salary in 2020-21 and a $5.26 million team option the year after, per Spotrac. If the 6'10", 218-pound forward lives up to expectations, he could be one of the biggest steals in the NBA.

The breakout showing in the bubble could have given the Nuggets a chance to sell high on a relatively inexperienced player and bring in a more proven talent in return to help contend for a title. However, they clearly believe in his talent and expect bigger things ahead for the 22-year-old.