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 | 11:21 am EDT Update
SI: Who’s the toughest cover in the league? Grant Williams: For guys like myself, the hardest people to guard are like Darius Garland. Small, shifty point guards. The longer, taller guys, and the physical guys I’m OK with. I do a good job on Darius and guys like that, but for me, it’s always been a small, small, small point guard that’s really shifty and quick.
SI: You have a long history with Bam. Does that help at all? Grant Williams: I feel like he’s gotten so much better since then. So as much as it could help, he’s improved so much that it’s one of those things, I can’t really go off my high school scouting report. As the years have gone on, it’s gotten more and more fun to play against him because of how much he’s improved, how much he continually wants to get better and improve his shot. I’m really just excited to play him throughout my career.
SI: Not to kick this off by asking a weird question, but how does your body feel right now? You’ve taken as much punishment in this playoff run as any player that I can remember since I started covering the league. Have you ever felt like you do right now, playing basketball? Grant Williams: Definitely not. But hey, this is what the playoffs and everything is about, right? It’s my role to deal with. It’s something you embrace, and I feel like it’s just even more fun because it’s something that I feel is unique and I don’t see many guys that can do the same things that I do.
SI: Which is what, exactly? Grant Williams: Just like in terms of going from the first series of guarding Kyrie and KD, then going to the next series with Giannis, the guys there. And now it’s what, Bam and Jimmy, and having primary matchups with each one of them. Even next series, maybe Steph and those guys? It’s interesting.
He said working on every part of his offensive game will be an offseason priority. “I really haven’t had a summer healthy to really work on my game,” Victor Oladipo said. “This summer I’m looking forward to fine-tuning all the stuff I’m great at, which includes [three-pointers, pull-ups, drives to the basket] and more. Transition, half-court, all the stuff that was second nature to me.”
So is his biggest room for growth offensively and not defensively? “Definitely [offensively], especially because I didn’t have had an opportunity to find my rhythm,” he said last week. “I can still be effective, find ways to affect the game. Even offensively, it’s more of a mind-set thing. I haven’t played a lot. I don’t have as much reps as everyone else but I can still play at a high level.”
The Memphis Grizzlies could be looking at an expensive price tag to keep unrestricted free agent Tyus Jones this summer. If Memphis goes in another direction, it will have the draft, free agency and trade market to explore for a quality backup point guard. However, one of the best options may already be on the roster.