Jamal Murray only just returned to the lineup for the Denver Nuggets on Monday after missing four games due to sore right knee, but at the end of their loss to the Golden State Warriors, Murray suffered what appeared to be a much more serious non-contact left knee injury.
The play occurred on a drive with less than a minute remaining in the game. The Nuggets trailed by seven and Murray attacked the basket, but as soon as he tried to launch off of his leg, he crumpled to the floor and looked to be in serious pain. He rejected a wheelchair and limped off of the floor with help. The Nuggets are working to get a Murray an MRI to determine the extent of the injury, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“Yes, we lost the game, but I think everybody’s thoughts are with Jamal and hoping that he’s going to be OK,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said following the game.
The Nuggets were one of the hottest teams in the NBA entering Monday’s game. They had won 18 of their previous 24 games, and after the acquisition of Aaron Gordon, looked like championship contenders. Denver’s new starting lineup featuring Gordon and Murray had outscored opponents by 61 points in its first 90 minutes on the floor together.
“Some of the coaches said when they watched the replay it looked like he hyperextended it,” Malone said. “He just came back, he was gone for four days he said his knee was bothering him so he took those four days to try to get right. First game back obviously is just an awful feeling. He felt good about coming back tonight. Injuries is just one of those things you can’t control.”
If Murray has to miss significant time, Denver’s entire short-term outlook changes. Without him, they likely have no chance to make a serious run. If the injury is serious enough to cut into next season, it could significantly alter Denver’s long-term plans as well. Both Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. have contracts that expire after next season, and the Nuggets might need to make decisions on both of them without having seen their full roster for a long enough period of time.
Murray was one of the breakout stars of the 2020 postseason. Things looked even brighter for 2021 with Gordon in tow. Now, the entire city of Denver just has to hope that this injury wasn’t as serious as it appeared. If it is, the entire future changes for a Nuggets team built to win around Murray.