Michael Porter Jr.
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

The Michael Porter Jr. Extension is Puzzling

As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Denver Nuggets and Michael Porter Jr. have agreed to a five-year max contract extension. The contract is worth $172 million at base-level, which can grow to $207 million if Porter makes an All-NBA team this season.

Right off the bat, this isn’t a Michael Porter Jr. slander piece. I think he’s really talented. Good for him that he secured the bag. This is more of a post questioning the Denver Nuggets for their financial decisions. That being said, I don’t know how to feel about this extension.

$200M Is a Lot of Money for Only 116 Career Games

My main point is that $200 million is not “let’s see what we have” money. $200 million is “we know exactly what we have” money, and I don’t think the Nuggets can be quite that certain about Michael Porter Jr. at this juncture. Three other players from the 2018 draft class have signed max extensions: Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The main difference is that these players all have a season worth of games on Porter. They are each more of a known quantity. Porter played well last season, but it’s honestly a little astonishing that Denver is taking that single season as evidence that Porter is worth the max going forward.

Do or Die for Denver

This move comes off as a little desperate by the Nuggets. Michael Porter Jr.’s extension will kick in starting next season. Denver will then be $60 million over the cap, and that’s even before Nikola Jokic signs his supermax next summer. They will have committed big-time money to Porter, Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon. Denver is completely locking themselves in to these players. This foursome will have around half a billion dollars in guaranteed contracts once Jokic signs the supermax. There will be no financial flexibility for this team if things don’t work out. With Porter dealing with back injuries throughout his career and Jamal Murray recovering from a torn ACL, the financial commitment is even less convincing. Of course, sacrifices must be made to win an NBA championship. The Nuggets are within their championship window with a reigning MVP on the roster. It’s likely now or never.

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