Before transitioning back into a media role with The Athletic, John Hollinger held a high-level position in the Grizzlies‘ basketball operations department for seven years, providing input on many key roster decisions during that stretch. Although Hollinger says he doesn’t spend much time contemplating “what-if” scenarios, he admits that he still thinks about the possibility of Memphis drafting Nikola Jokic back in 2014.
Looking back on the 2014 draft today at The Athletic, Hollinger concedes the Grizzlies weren’t eyeing Jokic with their No. 22 pick in the first round, but points to the No. 35 selection – which Memphis acquired from Utah – as a spot where Jokic would have made sense.
According to Hollinger, Jokic was ranked atop the Grizzlies’ list of draft-and-stash possibilities when the No. 35 pick arrived, but the team had Jarnell Stokes – who could potentially contribute right away – rated higher on its overall board.
Revisiting the pick now, Hollinger notes that the decision to select Stokes rather than Jokic – who was taken by the Nuggets at No. 41 – created something of a ripple effect of missed opportunities for the Grizzlies. Because Stokes occupied a spot on the 15-man roster, the team ended up waiving Hassan Whiteside that fall, despite an impressive training camp. If Memphis had stashed Jokic instead of drafting Stokes, the club may have kept Whiteside out of camp with that final roster spot.
Here’s more from around the Southwest:
- Appearing recently on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson said his rehab from a shoulder injury is “definitely going well,” but that he’s still a ways off from being able to suit up and play. “As much as I would want to, as much as I would try my hardest to force them to let me play (if the season resumes in June), I don’t think it would be a possibility,” Brunson said, per The Dallas Morning News.
- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is holding off reopening the team’s practice facility for the time being, suggesting to Brian Dameris and Mark Followill on their 77 Minutes in Heaven podcast that an inability to test players and staffers for COVID-19 is a roadblock (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN). “I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward,” Cuban said, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that other teams share the Mavs’ concerns about not being able to test asymptomatic players entering their gyms.
- The Pelicans aren’t reopening their facility this week and may not do so next week either, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. A source tells Lopez that May 18 may be a target date for the club. We heard on Wednesday that the Rockets are also circling May 18 as their reopening date.