NBA Rumors: Teams Aren't Eyeing Nikola Jokic Trade Ahead of Nuggets Contract Decision

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 10, 2022

FILE - Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) dribbles the ball up the court against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in San Francisco, Monday, April 18, 2022. Jokic has won his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award after a season in which he finished with numbers never before seen in NBA history, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Monday, May 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

Rival NBA teams reportedly haven't dedicated any resources to potentially luring Nikola Jokic away from the Denver Nuggets.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst recounted on The Hoop Collective podcast how front offices stockpiled cap space and assets for a possible Giannis Antetokounmpo pursuit before he signed a five-year extension with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020, and he noted that hasn't happened with Jokic, who can become a free agent in 2023.

"No one that I've ever heard has talked about trying to steal Jokic," Windhorst said. "No one has talked about, 'Can we get him out of Denver?' And he just basically announces before [a supermax contract extension] is even offered, he'll sign it."

Typically, any time a superstar is a year from free agency, the rumor mill is already spinning with links to possible landing spots, but that hasn't been the case with Jokic.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday the 27-year-old center is set to win the NBA MVP Award for the second straight season, with a formal announcement to come this week.

Yet instead of prepping for a run at one of the league's gold standards, other teams are seemingly resigned to the fact he's staying in Denver, which is great news for the Nuggets.

Jokic is eligible to sign a five-year, $254 million extension with Denver this offseason, per ESPN's Bobby Marks. If added on to the last year of his current deal, it would keep him with the franchise for six more seasons through the 2027-28 campaign.

"I would like it, of course," Jokic said. "But it's not something that I'm deciding. I think if [the] offer is on the table, of course I'm going to accept it because I really like the organization, I really like the people who works here. I'm in [a] really good relationship with everybody from [the] owner to equipment manager."

The Serbian sensation has spent his entire NBA career with the Nuggets since being selected in the second round of the 2014 draft.

Jokic didn't arrive in Denver for another year, making his debut during the 2015-16 season, but he was obviously worth the wait as he transformed into a franchise cornerstone.

He's coming off a season where he set new career-highs in points (27.1 per game), rebounds (13.8), steals (1.5) and shooting percentage (58.3). He also averaged 7.9 assists and 1.3 threes.

If an extension is ultimately signed, the focus for the Nuggets will be trying to chase down an NBA title during that championship window. They reached the 2020 Western Conference Finals but were eliminated in the first round of this year's playoffs.

A healthy Jamal Murray, who missed the entire 2021-22 season while recovering from a torn ACL, would be a major boost to those efforts. The same goes for Michael Porter Jr., who was limited to nine games because of a back injury.

The fact the Nuggets still cruised to the playoffs despite those injuries highlights the MVP impact of Jokic, and getting his extension done would give the team more long-term financial clarity for the remainder of the offseason.