The Denver Nuggets have locked up their core group of the future.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski , third-year forward Michael Porter Jr. has agreed to a five-year maximum contract extension woth up to $207 million with the Nuggets.
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., has agreed on a five-year designated max extension that could be worth up to $207 million, his agent Mark Bartelstein of @PrioritySports tells ESPN.- Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 27, 2021
The deal is set for a base of $172 million, but Porter can reach that $207 million figure if he accomplishes the designated maximum contract criteria of making one of three All-NBA teams this season. This extension comes off of a breakout year in which the 23-year-old averaged 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting a blistering 54.2 percent from the field and 44.5 percent from 3-point range.
Porter is the fourth member of the 2018 draft class to earn a max extension, following the lead of Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Coming out of high school, Porter was the top prospect in the country, anticipated to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft before a back injury during his freshman year at Missouri placed questions around his future. He fell into Denver's lap with the No. 14 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, but Porter missed his entire first year in the league after receiving another back surgery shortly after being drafted.
Once he made his debut for the Nuggets in 2019-20, he became an immediate contributor to a team that made a run to their first Western Conference Finals since 2009. In his first full season in 2020-21, Porter made a run at the league's Most Improved Player of the Year, finishing third behind award-winner Julius Randle and runner-up Jerami Grant.
Porter will be expected to handle a larger work load in Year 3, with star guard Jamal Murray expected to miss time as he recovers from the ACL injury he suffered last season.
The Nuggets have made a long-term commitment to their core of the future, signing Porter (23 years old), Murray (24) and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic (26) to maximum contracts, while also paying forward Aaron Gordon (26) a lucrative deal this offseason.
During the 2019 offseason, Denver signed Murray to a five-year, $170 million max contract extension. On the back of Jokic's 2020-21 MVP campaign, the All-Star center earned a historic five-year, $241 million contract this past offseason. Once Jokic's deal was done, the Nuggets moved on to trade deadline acquisition Gordon, who landed a four-year, $92 million contract extension. Porter was the last of the core group, rounding out the Nuggets' future.
With all four players 26 years old or younger, Denver is in a position to compete for a title for years to come. It has reached the playoffs in each of the last three years, winning at least one series in each postseason appearance. With a Conference Finals bid sandwiched inbetween two Conference Semifinals runs, the next step for the Nuggets is reaching the NBA Finals stage for the first time since their ABA days in 1976.
With this core group locked up, Denver will look for the foursome of Porter, Jokic, Murray and Gordon to lead the franchise to its first-ever NBA championship.
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