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Jarnell Stokes Eyes Return to NBA and Hopes of a Guaranteed Contract

The former Blazers Summer-Leaguer is coming off of an excellent season in China and details his comeback with Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside.

NBA: Summer League-Portland Trail Blazers at Memphis Grizzlies Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Jarnell Stokes has had plenty of two-way contract offers — but he wants more. The former second-round pick wants to return to the NBA after spending last season playing with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in China, where he averaged 25 points and 13.9 rebounds a game. Now, the 24-year-old wants a chance to prove he belongs in the association.

Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside recently caught up with the big man, who explained that he is looking for more than a two-way deal:

“I look at guys like Quinn Cook and Alex Poythress. The Pacers, Grizzlies, and Suns offered me a two-way contract last season. There were about fifteen teams that did,” Stokes revealed. “I look at these guys who took two-way offers and parlayed that into an NBA roster spot. Here I am at Summer League. I’m looking for a guaranteed deal. I know I deserve it.”

Stokes played for the Chicago Bulls in the Las Vegas Summer League this year, and played for the Trail Blazers in the league’s annual event last season. He’s also had tremendous success at the G-League level, winning the league’s MVP award in 2016 while playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Here’s a look back at his 22-point, 16-rebound performance for the Blazers last summer:

The former 35th overall pick in 2014 out of Tennessee says that he has improved vastly at the defensive end of the court, something that was an issue for him earlier in his career:

“I’ve continued to expand my game. At Summer League this year, I’ve proven that I can guard, defend, and switch off. A number of coaches have told me that I’m a hell of a player and can do a lot with the ball,” he pointed out. “If you can’t defend, they can’t keep you on the floor. That was the story of my rookie and sophomore years.”

Stokes has played in 28 total NBA games, with 19 of those appearances coming with the Memphis Grizzlies in his rookie season back in 2014-15. He last played in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets in 2016.

He averaged five points and 2.8 rebounds in just over 10 minutes across five games this summer for the Bulls.