Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Jamal Murray was “devastated” after being diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Speaking on Wednesday for the first time since the Nuggets announced they would be without their star point guard indefinitely, Malone said the team could see Murray’s angst over the season-ending injury.
“The 24.36 hour has been emotional,” Malone said before the Nuggets faced the Miami Heat. “Jamal is devastated, that’s understandable. I think the team is a little bit too. We understand the importance of Jamal Murray. We are a better team when Jamal Murray is healthy. … He is almost second in every major. [statistical] category in the team behind Nikola [Jokic]. “
Murray suffered the injury 50.6 seconds remaining in the Nuggets’ 116-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. The point guard has averaged 21.2 points, 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 47.7 percent from the field this season.
Carrying title aspirations that were bolstered by the Aaron Gordon trade, the Nuggets were shocked late Monday night after Murray fell.
“It was really tough. We stayed for this game in San Francisco,” said Malone. “Just sitting with him on the way to the airport, your heart breaks because you can see the raw emotion he was feeling.”
Malone told his players they need to regroup and understand that they still have the option to fight in the West.
“Some roles are obviously going to change,” said Malone. “I don’t want a person to think they have to be Jamal Murray. It doesn’t. It has to be by committee.”
The Nuggets will have to move on this season and for part of next season without Murray. Malone said that typically rehabilitation for a torn ACL can take anywhere from nine to 10 months.
“We love him. We support him and we are going to help him make this walk next year,” said Malone. “I have no doubt that he will come back as a better player, a stronger player. That’s how he did it. It’s in his DNA. I expect nothing less.”