The Denver Nuggets’ position on trading Michael Porter Jr. makes perfect sense.
The reports came back-to-back, as if the Denver Nuggets had just been waiting for reporters and insiders to ask about the possibility that they trade Michael Porter Jr. after the young forward demonstrated both immense skill and immaturity in the bubble.
Initially, it was just said that Porter was “highly unlikely” to be traded, even if such a deal would net them a talent like Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal.
That, in and of itself, was high praise for the sharpshooting forward; it’s not often are players with his combination of youth and inexperience seen as more valuable in a trade than a two-time All-Star who scored 30 points per game last season.
Less than 48 hours later, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst appeared on The Hoop Collective podcast, saying that “in talking to teams around the league, the Nuggets have made it clear: Michael Porter Jr. is not available. Do not ask” (h/t RealGM’s Wiretap).
“I can’t tell you how much I was told this week that they’re not trading Michael Porter Jr.,” relays Windhorst.
What does the Nuggets’ position on MPJ say?
Now, between the news that Porter would only be moved for a true superstar — not even a multi-time All-Star — and that Denver has already told multiple teams that they’re not moving him, it’s clear that MPJ is a highly-coveted player around the league. With perimeter shooting at a premium and Porter’s ability to dominate on the boards as well, it makes sense.
However, it also serves to drive up the return for Porter in a potential trade if there’s so much demand for his services and the Nuggets continue to show resistance to moving him in a deal.
That said, it’s clear that from the Nuggets perspective, Porter has All-Star — if not All-NBA — talent. When factoring in how he adds to the team’s current pool of talent and extends Denver’s championship window at just 22-years-old, it’s understandable why they’re not too keen on trading Porter.
There’s also the factor of team control.
Whether the player is Beal, Victor Oladipo or Jrue Holiday, there is a likelihood or an opportunity for them to become a free agent in 2021. Meanwhile, the Nuggets can count on MPJ to remain in Denver through at least 2022 (they have a team option on his 2021-22 season) and can give him a contract extension that can keep him in-town for four or five more seasons.
Are the Nuggets making a mistake?
Many people believe that Denver has a great collection of talent but they need more talent at the top of their roster to be legitimate championship contenders year-in and year-out. As a result, players like Porter, Will Barton and Gary Harris are seen as their best trade chips in a potential effort to go out and get them Beal (or a Beal-esque talent).
Unless they find out that the pieces they currently have don’t fit or a major player takes steps in his development, there’s no need to make a blockbuster move that could sever roster continuity.
For all anyone knows, the Nuggets could be even better than they were in the postseason if Porter becomes a more well-rounded player, Barton returns healthy and they retain Jerami Grant in free agency. To that point, for all anyone knows, Beal leaves Denver at the altar in 2021 and the franchise ends up further back than when they started prior to the trade.
Lastly, antagonizing Porter with trade rumors — which are simply part of being a professional athlete — could lead to unspoken tension within the locker room or between MPJ and the front office. That’s a potential recipe for disaster, for both Porter and the the Nuggets.
Heading into an offseason fully healthy for the first time in his budding career, the best way to get the best out of Porter is with positive reinforcement and outward displays of confidence.
What players could MPJ realistically be used to trade for?
Of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis are pipe dreams. If ‘realistically’ is the key word then, considering that the Nuggets want a superstar, the answer is nobody.
In essence, Porter truly is virtually untouchable.
How do you view the Nuggets’ unwillingness to trade MPJ? Let us know on Twitter @Nugg_Love.