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DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic has gone from No. 41 draft pick to two-time Kia MVP, and now the holder of the biggest contract in NBA history.
Jokic signed a five-year, $264 supermax extension with the Denver Nuggets.
The team announced the deal on Friday.
IT’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE 🗣 pic.twitter.com/YmVO2yiOZy
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) July 8, 2022
It starts with the 2023-24 season and continues until 2027-28 – when, if Jokic exercises his option for this season, he could earn around $60 million.
The Serbian star enjoyed a meteoric rise during his seven NBA seasons, all with the Nuggets. He became All-Star in his fourth season and has remained at that level ever since, and has won MVP in each of the past two seasons after averaging 26.4 points in 2020-21 and 27.1 points last season.
And the MVP votes haven’t been exactly close; Jokic has topped around 75% of the votes cast for this award for the past two seasons.
Jokic, 27, is coming off one of his finest seasons – and is creating a new category because of it. He is the first NBA player to eclipse 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a season.
Jokic also averaged 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists for a Denver team that was missing up to two players in Jamal Murray (ACL recovery) and Michael Porter Jr. (fullback). He helped the Nuggets to a 48-34 record and a No. 6 seed in the West, where they lost to eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors in the first round.
The organization has gone through big changes since the end of the season, starting with the front office with the departure of president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to division rival Minnesota. His vacancy created more responsibility for Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth, who orchestrated a trade on Wednesday that sent guards Will Barton and Monte Morris to the Wizards for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith. Their team also dealt JaMychal Green and a protected 2027 first-round pick to Oklahoma City for Peyton Watson and two future second-round picks.
Provided everyone is healthy, that means a roster that could look like this: Murray, Caldwell-Pope, Jokic, Aaron Gordon and Porter.
To think, Jokic was taken in the second round of the 2014 draft – as a Taco Bell ad aired. Not that he even knows that day.
“I was sleeping,” Jokic recently said in a Zoom call from Serbia.
The player nicknamed “Joker” is unique in his way of playing and even in his behavior. He’s the kind of low-key star whose hobbies include hanging out at his stable in Serbia. When he won his second consecutive MVP, he rode to the barn on a two-wheeled horse-drawn cart.
As the 13th player to win consecutive NBA MVP awards, his name will be linked to basketball greats such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Moses Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Should he beat three rounds, Jokic would be in the company of Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.