Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray suffered an ACL tear in the waning seconds of the team’s 116-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors on April 12 of last year.
The Nuggets started the season later than usual because of the COVID-19 epidemic, but they still managed to finish with a 47-25 record, good enough for the third seed in the Western Conference.
Despite their first-round victory against the Trail Blazers, the Denver Nuggets were eliminated from the playoffs in disgrace by the eventual conference champion Phoenix Suns.
According to Nuggets Supporters,
This was a golden opportunity that was squandered. Nikola Jokic, the team’s centre, had an outstanding year, earning him the award for Most Valuable Player for the first time in franchise history. If Murray can stay healthy for next season, the Nuggets might be serious title contenders.
Put today’s date in the past tense. Since last year, not much has changed. The Nuggets improved their victory total from 47 to 48 (albeit in 10 less games than that shortened season) and Jokic has been just as great, if not better, than he was when he won the MVP award last year. Still no sign of Murray.
The Nuggets will be missing Murray and Michael Porter Jr., who had back surgery again after playing in only a couple of games in October and November, when they meet the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.
It was always assumed that Porter wouldn’t be back until the following season, despite the blogosphere’s hopes to the contrary. However, Murray was, at least to some extent, and his anticipated return would give the Nuggets a fighting chance to reach the Western Conference Finals.
For the Majority of the Year,
The Nuggets did the right thing by putting a lid on rumours that Murray would be returning. There were still no rumblings about Murray’s situation on March 31 because of coach Michael Malone’s denials.
Everyone wants to know, ‘Will he play this year?'” I’ll be really forthright with you: we still don’t have the solution,” Malone admitted. I’ve put absolutely no pressure on him to return this season. Now that we’re down to (at the moment) five games, returning seems strange because each and every one of them is crucial. Every game counts, therefore there’s a delicate balance to strike when reintroducing a player.
That’s an intricate balancing act. But if Jamal Murray comes up to me and says, “Hey coach, I’m ready, man, I’d like to play” and he’s been given the all-clear, then we’ll figure something out. There are good days, there are amazing days, and there are some terrible days, I imagine, just as there are for anyone returning home.
That’s probably what he’s been experiencing for the past month or so as he’s stepped things up a notch. And I’m sure he has good days and bad days where he thinks, “Man, I don’t know if I can do this,” but mostly good days.
Right now, the most important thing for him is simply having the self-assurance to go out and play without second-guessing himself. For someone who has been away from the game for over a year like he has, that’s the toughest part.
As one of the league’s most well-known “players’ coaches,” Malone’s approach to the mental component of recuperation was in accordance with his reputation and provided more than a little insight into Murray’s difficulties. This honesty is much appreciated and simple to respect.
One Night Later, Though, Things Shifted.
The Nuggets’ failed attempt to escape the league’s play-in tournament came to a head after their lacklustre performance against the Timberwolves in Minnesota on April 1.
In spite of the loss, Murray’s mental (game) was praised by his teammate Monte Morris. ‘He’s raring to go for another round. His appearance has been rather pleasing. In this dunk, he’s using both legs. I suppose it’s just a matter of time, but here’s hoping we can win him back.
Murray had been working out with the team’s development staff before games and appeared to be making some progress, but he hadn’t been fully practising or scrimmaging with his teammates at that point, and his rehab assignment to the G-Grand League’s Rapids Gold weeks before immediately short-circuited.
It was assumed, understandably, that Murray could not be made game-ready in time for the rest of this season before Morris broke the seal. A few seconds later, Malone may have tried to seal the possible Pandora’s Box, but he didn’t.
We won’t be ending Jamal Murray’s career. As you can see, there is no simple answer here. We are not competing in a race with a clear end point. After these last four games, who can predict what the season will look like?
Will we make the Postseason?
Will we be making the playoffs? Actually, who can say? It’s not obvious yet,” Malone, apparently upset, stated. Jamal is doing better and better every day. Let me assure you that the entire group is desperate for his return.
I need him to return. Jamal Murray wants to return because he believes he can help make us a better team. Actually, he’s coming along quite nicely. However, I am unable to tell that he will play in any of the remaining four games. Although I can’t guarantee that he won’t, I can’t say that he will, either.
In March, Murray and Warriors guard Klay Thompson spoke, and Thompson offered Murray his support and advise. According to reports, Thompson, who has missed the past two full seasons and most of this year due to his extended rehabilitation from a catastrophic injury, stressed to Murray the significance of coming back only when totally healthy.
It was a view shared by the reigning MVP, who took a different approach than Morris and Malone.
If you aren’t completely prepared, don’t come back, I told Jamal. “That’s so dumb,” Jokic said, his tone strong and contemptuous. If you aren’t fully recovered before the playoffs, you run the danger of aggravating an existing ailment.
Several days later, following a humiliating 116-97 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Aaron Gordon echoed this view, implying that the team would welcome Murray’s return to the court, if he was in top physical condition.
You should take your time, I urged him. This is not something you want to rush. Gordon emphasised the need of taking things slowly while returning from an injury, especially in a high-stakes situation like the playoffs. We can’t do without him.
Obviously, he would be useful to us. But first and foremost, he must prioritise his own well-being. This is the most important factor. After that, it’s all for naught. After he has recovered and is certain that he can contribute to the team again, he should rejoin us. Participate in the action as Blue Arrow, Jamal Murray. The first order of business is. Have some self-care.
Both Jokic and Gordon fully grasp the meaning of their words. They won’t have a chance against the Warriors without Murray and would be lucky to beat the lowly Grizzlies or the league-leading Suns.
They Keep Telling Him to Hold Off.
Although the Nuggets haven’t officially announced Murray’s medical clearance, the team has been surprisingly candid in its comments.
Tim Connelly, president of basketball operations, spoke on Friday’s episode of “The Drive” with Darren “D-Mac” McKee and Tyler Polumbus on 104.3 The Fan to discuss the current state of Murray’s contract.
All over this last year, we’ve been telling Jamal, ‘We’ll inform you when you’re physically ready. And you have to let us know when you want to go out there,” he continued.
When asked if Murray should play this year, Connelly answered emphatically that the choice was now his. Definitely, without a doubt. Absolutely, one hundred percent.
Murray may feel pressured, however unintentionally, to return from his absence. After all, if Murray has complete control, it must mean that he has passed all necessary medical tests.
After Sunday’s meaningless 146-141 overtime loss to the visiting Los Angeles Lakers, which was essentially a preseason game, Malone all but confirmed that. Malone claimed after the game that he had offered Murray a chance to play, even if only for a few minutes, but Murray had declined.
Author Mike Singer of the Denver Post reports, “Michael Malone said his extended talk with Jamal comprised checking in. According to Malone, he told Jamal, “If you want to play a few minutes in a low-stakes game, okay.” It’s fine if you don’t, too. They called it a “mental hurdle” that Murray must get through.
All of the Nuggets’ efforts to rein down the rumours over the past week and a half have failed. Unless Malone was being really reckless and careless, he would not have suggested playing Murray unless he was 100 percent certain in his guard’s physical readiness.
No, Malone is not like that. Since it is clear from his previous remarks how much he cares about and respects Murray, the only viable explanation is that Murray’s challenge is now purely mental.
That’s a Major Issue.
Connelly and Malone have paved the way for fans and detractors to blame Murray for any probable first-round loss to Golden State by saying that Murray’s return is imminent, while other players have said that he still shouldn’t hurry back, even at this late date.
Murray’s mindset, professionalism, and passion to his teammates have already been questioned, and James Merilatt of The Fan has raised these concerns.
Early in April, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post skirted the issue by saying, “If he’s ready, it’s time.” Get out there and give it a try. When it comes to Murray, there is “no time like the present,” as the saying goes, “at least for the rest of this chaotic, unpredictable 2021-22 season.”
You Can Count on the Fallout to get Considerably Worse if the Nuggets Lose this Series.
Nothing good could have come from this. Denver could have taken a page out of Chicago’s playbook and announced officially and unequivocally that guard Lonzo Ball will be out for the remainder of the season due to left knee surgery in January.
If the Nuggets had done the same thing with Murray, not only would none of these awkward questions have been raised, but if Murray was able to play, he would return as a hero, fighting against the odds to help his team in their time of need; and if it turned out that he wasn’t particularly effective, fans would forget all about that, instead lauding his toughness and dedication.
Not any longer, though. There has been a leak of Blue Arrow information. While it wasn’t on purpose, the person was nonetheless left wide open.
If Murray wants to protect his health and the future of the Nuggets, he must endure the criticism of his colleagues rather than terminating them. It’s a tough call with no good options, and the Nuggets should have protected him from having to make it.
Even the unwavering optimism required of champions can be dangerous at times, and players may need shielding from it.
The Nuggets’ championship window may be just as open next fall as it is today, so it’s crucial that they right the ship after this season’s rocky finale, whenever that may be. Of course, it’s not easy to accept, but things would have gone more smoothly if Murray, Malone, and Connelly had seen it sooner.