Nuggets Star Michael Porter Jr. Signs $207M Max Deal, Still Doesn’t Want Vaccine

(Photo @MPJ/IG)

The Talent of MPJr Is Unquestionable

The basketball talent of Michael Porter Jr. has never been disputed. Who can forget how Porter and Atlanta Hawks star guard Trae Young led MOKAN Elite to the prestigious Peach Jam title in 2016?

MPJr and Trae were named Co-MVPs of an event they flat dominated.

Back Pains

The 6’10, athletic wing from Columbia, Missouri, was likened to Kevin Durant from an early age because of his combination of size, length and sniper shooting.

After missing the entire college season at Missouri due to back surgery in 2017, the elite wing returned in time for the SEC and NCAA tournaments, and was brought off the bench.

Porter decided to forgo his final three years of eligibility at Missouri and enter the 2018 NBA draft. NBA execs felt that Porter’s upside was just too much for the Denver Nuggets to pass on with the 14th overall pick, despite Porter not offering much of a sample size in college.

MPJ dropping to 14 was actually a steal for Denver. When he first arrived at Missouri he was being touted as a sure fire top five NBA pick and possibly No.1 overall. The Nuggets drafted him knowing a possible second back surgery was highly plausible, and they were correct, as he missed his rookie season following that second surgery.

MPJ’s On-Court Arrival In The Mile High City

Porter Jr. made his NBA debut during the 2019-20 season, and immediately showed flashes of the promise that made him a top prospect prior to his back problems.

There was some doubt that the offensive-minded Porter could thrive in a bench role for the Nuggets. Head coach Michael Malone expects his guys to execute on both ends. Porter had to earn his time, despite the fans clamoring for his insertion into the starting lineup.

Pepsi Center fans voiced their displeasure on many nights when Malone refused to play Porter Jr. Most of the time it was tough love because of Porter’s inconsistencies on the defensive end.

During the NBA COVID stoppage, however, a switch must have flipped for the talented flamethrower. When the league returned in the NBA bubble, MPJ was a different player.

He was a vital contributor to helping the upstart Nuggets reach the Conference Finals, while also overcoming two (3-1) series deficits. MPJ’s shooting range and scoring punch allowed for floor-spacing and complemented Denver’s star players Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

MPJ Is In The Building

The 2020-21 season was the true coming out party for Porter, as he averaged 19.3 points per game, 7.3 rebounds and shot 45 percent from three-point range, becoming just the third player in NBA history after Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to shoot at least 40 percent from three in their first two seasons in the league.

He really hit his stride last season when the team lost second-leading scorer and floor leader Jamal Murray with 24 games left.

Porter Jr, elevated his play and became the second-best player on the roster behind Jokic.

Nuggets Reward Him With Max Deal

This week the Nuggets rewarded the rising Porter Jr. with a max contract worth $207 million over five years. With signing of MPJr., the Nuggets now have three players 26 years old or younger making over $30 million.

The Nuggets feel like they will have the NBA’s premier “Big Three” and the organization believes they could bring the first Larry O’ Brien Trophy to Denver.

But in these unprecedented times things rarely happen as planned. Porter Jr. is one of the dwindling amount of players who still refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Porter Jr. Has Hard Stance On Getting Vaccinated

NBA layers like Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins and Bradley Beal have refused to get the vaccine.

Wiggins even had his religious exemption from getting the vaccine denied, and currently stands to lose $350K per home game missed if he isn’t vaccinated in accordance with the city of San Francisco and it’s COVID-19 mandate.

The NBA has announced that players who miss games because of failure to comply with local COVID-19 mandates will not get paid for those games.

The NBA announced that players who miss games due to a failure to comply with local COVID-19 safety mandates will not get paid. (Screenshot First Take)

Porter Jr, says his disapproval stems from having the virus twice.

“For me, I had the virus twice, I saw how my body reacted, and although the chances are slim, with the vaccine, there’s a chance you could have a bad reaction to it,” Porter told the Denver Post this week. “For me, I don’t feel comfortable.”

“My stance on the mandate is it definitely shouldn’t be a mandate. It should be everyone’s decision,” Porter said. “I see it both ways. If you want to get it because you feel more protected and you feel safer, and it’s protecting people around you, get it. That’s good for you. But if you feel like, ‘Oh, for me, I don’t feel safe getting it, then don’t get it.”

Worth The Risk 

The Nuggets knew Porter wasn’t vaccinated prior to offering him the five-year max extension. If this was a ploy to get him to do it, it hasn’t worked.

The NBA and surrounding jurisdictions are ramping up the consequences for the unvaccinated. With Jamal Murray out at least until the All-Star break and probably longer, Porter’s absence would be a killer for Denver.