Michael Porter Jr.’s recent injury should push the Denver Nuggets to pull the trigger on the Jamal Murray-Ben Simmons swap. With thinning options on the offensive end, Simmons might be just what the doctor ordered for the Nuggets to salvage their season.
MPJ’s nerve-related injury
According to Denver Post, Michael Porter Jr. suffered an injury related to nerve issues in his back, something that had been troubling the forward for a while. He was given some time off to figure things out, but second back surgery is possible. This means at just 23 years old, the Nuggets young star might have two back-related major operations in his career, which puts into light the durability concerns that surrounded Porter Jr even before he entered the NBA.
MPJ missed his entire rookie year to fix herniated discs. He played 55 games in the 2019-2020 season, averaging 9.3 points, but showed what he could do when healthy by having a breakout year in the Orlando bubble -- 19 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. This prompted the front office to offer a max extension of $207 million in 5 years. It surprised critics, but the management was convinced they found a new star to pair with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
Now, the third-year forward is having a disappointing start of the season averaging only 9.9 points per game. A lot of expectations were put on his shoulder because Murray is still out, and gone are old reliables Paul Millsap and Jerami Grant. With his return uncertain, Denver needs to decide if they should pull the trigger on the Murray-Simmons swap, which the team allegedly turned down before.
Why the Simmons-Murray swap makes more sense now
Denver is yet to enter panic mode. Sitting as the sixth seed in the Western Conference, they are still very much in contention for the playoffs. But how far can The Joker, who is delivering MVP numbers to compensate for Murray and Porter Jr, carry this team on his back? It's hard to say, but he clearly needs help as the team is one injury away from collapsing.
Jamal for Ben was reportedly brought to the table, but insiders revealed the reaction of the team: it was insulting both to the player and the franchise.
With MPJ’s uncertain future due to repeating health issues, the trade proposal suddenly makes sense. Ben Simmons is keeping himself in shape, practicing away from the team, and his All-Star playmaking skills can disburden Jokic. When Murray returns from his injury, the Sixers would get a bonafide star who is committed and a proven performer in big moments. Videos of Jamal practicing show promise that the guard, when he returns, will not lose much of the explosiveness and shooting he’s known for.
There are risks involved in this trade but if it pays off, Denver and Philadelphia would have instant solutions to immediate problems. Now might be the time for both sides to go for it.