Charles F. Gardner: Denver coach Michael Malone said this morning forward Nikola Jokic will return from hip injury tonight vs. Bucks.
Chris Dempsey: Will Barton (ankle) is out of tonight's game vs. the Lakers. As are Jokic and Mudiay. Everyone else is in. #Nuggets.
Chris Dempsey: Wondering when Nikola Jokic could return? #Nuggets coach Michael Malone gives a bit of a glimpse into that here. This is from Saturday. "When we got the news that it was a lot less severe than we all anticipated and he could be back as early as sometime in the middle of next week, that's great. That's great for him, most importantly because you don't want to see a guy hurt. And it's great for our team."
Chris Dempsey: It has already been determined that Jokic will not play tomorrow vs. Phoenix. He is not making the trip there. #nuggets
Jokic was helped to his feet and limped straight back to the locker room. The scare, though, that this could have been a significant injury, appears to be only that. Jokic is said to have a left hip strain. X-rays were negative, but Jokic, who led the Nuggets to a 127-120 victory over Phoenix on Thursday, will have an MRI on Friday. “It’s good news for us,” teammate Will Barton said. “He’s been playing out of this world for us; our best player. It would be tough to see him go down for a long time. I’m just happy he’s fine.”
Alex Kennedy: Nikola Jokic is getting X-rays on his hip and knee, per source. We may get an update on his status tonight.
The short-term outlook for Nuggets center Nikola Jokic’s sprained wrist isn’t great. He’ll likely at least be out the next three games, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Saturday. Jokic missed his second consecutive game Saturday night. “Talking to Nikola, he wants to play right when he can catch the ball,” Malone said. “I think we’ll probably be a little more cautious than that on this road trip, maybe get it looked at again just to kind of see where it’s at once the swelling goes down.”
May 25, 2022 | 1:32 pm EDT Update
It is a lot of smoke, but no fire, yet. And you’ve got to hand it to the behind-the-scenes folks: They’ve created some late-spring entertainment, some buzz around Zach LaVine. In the end, make no mistake, though. Most expect LaVine back in Chicago. “Business as usual,” one Eastern Conference general manager said. “The Bulls can give him more money. They can give him a chance to go to the playoffs every year. If he is not the No. 1 option, he is 1A and that is going to be the case in just about any place he goes if he is serious about leaving. Portland is out there as a possibility for him, and if he leaves, that is the only place where it would make any sense. But would he shoot more than Damian Lillard there? Of course not. It’s a lateral move, or even a step down a bit.”
“A lot of this is coming from the agents, where they want to not only get him paid but raise his profile at the same time,” one league source told Heavy.com. “That is their M.O. The more drama in the process, the better. No one was talking about Zach. Now everyone is. Mission accomplished.”
The agents mentioned are those from Klutch Sports, which has star clients like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Trae Young and, yes, LaVine’s Bulls teammate, Lonzo Ball. The latest round of chatter around LaVine likely has more to do with Klutch angling to make sure that LaVine keeps his old as the top Bulls star going forward. That’s likely to be the case without this wave of late-May drama, given that DeRozan turns 33 in August and is not likely to repeat the kind of season he just put forth, with a career-high in scoring (27.9 points) and the second-best shooting (50.4%) of his career. “It is still Zach’s team,” the NBA source said. “Klutch just wants to make sure everyone knows it.”