Whatever pressure Jamal Murray may or may not feel to come back from his torn ACL, it’s not coming from Aaron Gordon.
Gordon knows how badly Murray wants to come back and help the Nuggets qualify for the playoffs. At the same time, Gordon warned the Nuggets franchise goalie to put his health first.
“I told him to take his time,” Gordon said. “You don’t want to rush. It’s not something to rush into after an injury, especially coming back to such a high level game, in the playoffs.
But in the next breath, Gordon also offered some undeniable truth to anyone who watched Nikola Jokic carry the Nuggets through 80 games.
“We need him,” Gordon continued. “We could use it, obviously. But number one is him, his health and his well-being. This is the #1 thing. Nothing else matters after that. Once he feels healthy, completely, of course, come back to the team and help us. Be Jamal Murray, the blue arrow. First of all. Take care.”
After Thursday night’s game against Memphis, for which Murray has already been ruled out, Denver will have one more game — Sunday’s regular season finale against the Lakers — for him to potentially return. If the Nuggets can beat the Grizzlies and secure a top-six seed, this Sunday game would become a low-stakes affair and a perfect environment for Murray to test the waters.
If not, Sunday’s game could still have significance as the Nuggets could try to avoid the play-in tournament. Does it make sense for him to come back after a calendar year in this setting?
The play-in tournament could also buy Murray some time. The NBA announced Thursday that it will continue until April 15, potentially robbing Murray of an extra week to regain his confidence.
While Monte Morris suggested he was close to a comeback, Jokic and Gordon told him to put his body first. Gordon said he hoped Murray heard his message.
“He’s a dog, so he wants to be out there with us,” Gordon said.