Former Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. has undergone his second back surgery in eight months, according to the Denver Nuggets, the team that drafted him No. 14 overall in June’s NBA draft. But his father told The Star on Thursday that there was still a chance the 6-foot-10 scorer could be ready by the start of the NBA season.
In the Nuggets’ announcement that their 2018 first-round pick underwent lumbar spine surgery, the franchise offered no timeline for his return.
“Mike’s feeling great,” MU assistant coach Michael Porter Sr. told The Star on Thursday. “The doctors got more insight into what was going on. Just cleaned up a bit of a herniation that was pressing on a nerve. ... The initial prognosis, it sounded like he could be ready at the start of the season. It’s a good deal all the way around.”
Lumbar spine surgery involves the lower back and is usually done to relieve nerve root pinching. Porter’s previous surgery involved the L3 and L4 vertebrates, and was to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve column. The most recent operation was done by Andrew Dossett, who performed the original surgery on Porter in November. Dossett performed both surgeries in Dallas.
Porter’s latest spinal issue isn’t as big of a surprise as the first one, given his fall in last month’s NBA draft. On draft night, the first 12 teams (the Clippers picked No. 12 and 13) didn’t draft Porter in part because of his medical records, which indicated that his back could be a long-term issue in his professional career.
In his introductory news conference in Denver, Nuggets officials said they would be patient with Porter because they believed the potential payoff could be franchise-changing.
“The Nuggets went from square one to assess him and get film on it in terms of MRI and stuff,” Porter Sr. said. “Their medical team, we just followed their lead with the whole thing.”
Porter Jr. previously told The Star in May, before the draft combine, that he was 100 percent healthy. At his introductory news conference, he said he could play in the upcoming season, but that he might also opt to take more time to recover. The Nuggets never committed to having Porter play in the summer league, which some took as a sign that he might not see the court for a while.
“He can’t believe how great he feels,” Porter Sr. said of his son, the former No. 1 college recruit in the country. “He’s totally pain-free and feels great right now. He’s just got to follow the protocol.
“It’s hard for young guys to sit still. That’s what he has to do. He has to (go) I don’t know how many weeks without bending to let that thing heal properly.”