Michael Porter Jr., who hasn’t played in a game since Dec. 29 due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, has reported back to the Nuggets and will be listed as questionable for Friday’s game against Phoenix, tweets Mike Singer of the Denver Post.
Porter was originally held out for seven days for contact tracing purposes, then tested positive for the coronavirus, extending his quarantine period by another two weeks.
The young forward will have to ramp up his conditioning and complete additional testing – including a cardio exam – before he’s formally cleared to return to the Nuggets’ lineup (Twitter links via Singer and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN).
While it’s not clear if Porter will be game-ready by Friday, head coach Michael Malone said Thursday that he’s optimistic the 22-year-old will be able to play at some point during Denver’s five-game road trip, which begins on Friday in Phoenix and runs through next Friday (Jan. 29) in San Antonio.
Malone stated earlier this week that Porter’s spot in the starting lineup is safe, though he referred to Will Barton as “a starter,” noting that he feels the Nuggets have more than five starter-caliber players, tweets Singer. As such, it remains to be seen whether MPJ will immediately supplant Barton as the team’s starting small forward or if he’ll be gradually eased back into that role.