Nikola Jokic Reportedly to Sign New 5-Year, $260M Supermax Contract with Nuggets

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 27, 2022

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Reigning two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic reportedly plans on signing a supermax contract extension with the Denver Nuggets soon.

According to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, the superstar center intends to sign a five-year, $260 million extension with the Nuggets when it is offered to him in July.

"Jokic's brothers, Strahinja and Nemanja, met with Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth and assistant GM Tommy Balcetis in recent days to discuss the team's future," Charania and Amick reported. "All sides, sources say, left the meeting aligned in their vision."

Jokic was eligible to hit free agency in 2023, but his return to the Mile High City was widely expected. The Nuggets could offer him more money than any other team, and his agent said in March the 6'11" center was planning to sign a supermax deal.

From Denver's perspective, paying Jokic as much as was allowable under the collective bargaining agreement was a no-brainer.

The 27-year-old showed promise while sharing a frontcourt with Jusuf Nurkic in his first two seasons. Nurkic's trade to the Portland Trail Blazers then allowed him to shine in a prominent role.

Jokic made the first of four straight All-Star appearances in 2018-19 and averaged 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists. He has continued to improve since then.

The Serb firmly stamped his place as one of the NBA's elite talents during his first MVP campaign of 2020-21 by putting up 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. He also shot 56.6 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from beyond the arc.

The Nuggets finished third in the Western Conference that year despite Jamal Murray missing the final 18 games because of a torn ACL.

With Murray and Michael Porter Jr. both nursing significant injuries, Denver had to lean on Jokic even more in 2021-22, and he still managed to be nearly unstoppable. He averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.5 steals en route to a second straight MVP award.

His 15.2 win shares were the highest in the NBA for the second year in a row, per Basketball Reference.

Jokic's best performance came in a 130-128 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 19. He finished with a triple-double (49 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists) in 42 minutes on the floor.

The Nuggets had already rewarded Murray (five years, $158.3 million), Porter (five years, $172.6 million) and Aaron Gordon (four years, $86.6 million) with major extensions. Jokic was the next in line.

Porter's deal was a tone-setter from ownership as to its willingness to spend, too. The franchise didn't let the 23-year-old even hit restricted free agency before putting a max contract on the table.

With Jokic, the only variable was whether he might want to pursue greener pastures.

Murray's ACL injury and Porter's history of back problems give the Nuggets a somewhat muddied outlook. They're clearly good enough to contend for the playoffs, but they might have already peaked with their trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2019-20.

The door to a championship at least remains open for as long as Jokic is on the roster.

If recent history has shown anything, the NBA's top stars can force their way out if they're determined enough. Re-signing with Denver now doesn't preclude him from requesting a trade within the next few years if he sees greener pastures elsewhere.

That's a bridge the Nuggets will cross if it comes. For now, they can celebrate holding onto a player who's on pace to be the greatest in team history.