Joker’s wild: Nuggets, Jokic agree to $270M dealon July 1, 2022 at 5:35 am

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has agreed to the largest contract in NBA history — a five-year, $270 million supermax extension, his agents, Jeff Schwartz and Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports, told ESPN on Friday.

Jokic, the two-time reigning Most Valuable Player, is now secured to the Nuggets for a total of six seasons for $303 million.

The deal includes a player option and a trade kicker. The contract will kick in during the 2023-24 season at $46.6 million and climb every season until 2027-28, when Jokic is set to make $61.5 million.

A second-round draft pick, Jokic has evolved into one of the improbable forces in the history of the game, a transformative offensive talent who has secured back-to-back league MVP awards.

Jokic, 27, averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 74 games for the Nuggets last season, as he edged out Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid to win the league’s top individual honor for a second straight season, becoming the 15th player to win at least two MVP awards in his career and the 10th to win them in back-to-back seasons.

He became eligible for the supermax when he won his first MVP award following the 2021 season, setting him up to extend through the remainder of his prime in Denver. Players qualify for the supermax by being named to an All-NBA team or winning Defensive Player of the Year in either the most recent season or the two prior seasons, or by winning the league’s MVP award in any of the past three seasons.

Now a four-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA selection, Jokic has become arguably the greatest passing big man in the history of the sport, essentially operating as a point guard for Denver in a 6-foot-11 body.

Jokic, who was born in Sombor, Serbia, was the No. 41 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He came to the league a year later and quickly made himself an essential part of Denver’s plans before blossoming into an All-Star for the first time in the 2018-19 season.

Jokic’s ascension to All-Star status the past four seasons has coincided with Denver rocketing up the Western Conference standings and making the postseason four times in a row — including a trip to the 2020 Western Conference finals inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, Florida.

Now, Jokic and Denver will head into next season hoping to make it to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, presumably with Jamal Murray, who missed last season with a torn ACL he suffered in the spring of 2021, and Michael Porter Jr., who missed the vast majority of last season after undergoing back surgery, both on the court alongside him again.

With Murray missing each of the past two postseasons, Denver lost in the second round to the Phoenix Suns in 2021, and in the first round to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors this past season.

Denver began reshaping its roster ahead of next season by trading guards Monte Morris and Will Barton to the Washington Wizards earlier this week in exchange for guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith, with Caldwell-Pope likely to slot into Denver’s starting lineup as a 3-and-D wing next to Murray in the backcourt.

ESPN NBA reporter Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.

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