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Nuggets, Porter Jr. reach 5-year, $207-million contract extension
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Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets reaches a five-year, $207-million contract extension with the team. /CFP

Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets reaches a five-year, $207-million contract extension with the team. /CFP

The Denver Nuggets reached a five-year, $207-million contract extension with their forward Michael Porter Jr., ESPN reported, citing Porter Jr.'s agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports.

The 23-year-old must make one of the three All-NBA Teams in the 2021-22 season to make the full amount of the salary or the deal will become $172 million for five years.

As a 2.08-meter-tall forward averaged 19 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 triples at 44.5 percent last season. The combination of his shooting and size reminds one of Kevin Durant.

However, keeping him with a maximum deal is still a controversial decision for the following reasons:

Michael Porter Jr. (#1) of the Denver Nuggets shoots in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference first-round playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center, Portland, Oregon, U.S., June 3, 2021. /CFP

Michael Porter Jr. (#1) of the Denver Nuggets shoots in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference first-round playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center, Portland, Oregon, U.S., June 3, 2021. /CFP

First, Porter Jr. has been no more than a pure finisher in the past two years. His dribble is not even good enough to protect the ball, let alone launch offense off the dribble from outside the 3-point line. As a result, the Nuggets cannot rely on him to lead a squad by himself on the court.

Second, Porter Jr.'s history of back injuries will be a true concern over his consistency. That problem cost him the whole rookie season. It's also why the Nuggets could draft him with the 14th pick. He was a top selection candidate when he was healthy.

Third, Porter Jr. is still not a trustworthy defender. So far, he has been an okay one-on-one defender against most big men in the league thanks to his size and power. But other than that, he is below average. He does not have good enough reading of the opponents' offense, especially for screen play. As a result, he would easily make poor decisions in switch. Moreover, he has not learnt how to take advantage of his height and athleticism. He averaged only 0.9 blocks last season.

Michael Porter Jr. (L) of the Denver Nuggets defends Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference first-round playoffs at Moda Center, Portland, Oregon, U.S., June 3, 2021. /CFP

Michael Porter Jr. (L) of the Denver Nuggets defends Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference first-round playoffs at Moda Center, Portland, Oregon, U.S., June 3, 2021. /CFP

Nonetheless, the Nuggets don't have any choice but to keep him. They have the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic whose contract is coming due in 2023 summer. Jamal Murray's five-year, $170-million contract came into effect last season. With these two on the roster, the Nuggets won't have high draft picks in the coming years. Furthermore, star free agents are unlikely to choose Denver.

So, the Nuggets have to win now and keep every piece they have access to. That's why they gave Porter Jr. this deal and Aaron Gordon the four-year, $92-million contract extension earlier. They will need Porter Jr. to do a lot more than a finisher's job.

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