Serbian star lands biggest-ever NBA deal – agents

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Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has reportedly secured the largest payday ever seen in the NBA

Nikola Jokic, the giant Serbian center and two-time NBA ‘Most Valuable Player’, has agreed terms on a bumper five-year, $270 million contract extension with the Denver Nuggets, his agents confirmed to ESPN in what is the biggest deal ever handed out in league history.

The terms of the deal, which is a so-called ‘supermax’ extension given his veteran status with the Nuggets, means that the 27-year-old is now tied to the Colorado-based team for a total of six seasons for the hefty total price tag of $303 million.

To qualify for a supermax extension a player must qualify for the all-NBA team, or win either the Defensive Player of the Year or MVP in any of the last three seasons. 

The contract, which comes into effect in the 2023-24 season, will increase in value each year until the 2027-28 campaign during which he will make an eye-watering sum of $61.5 million.

The Serbian superstar, who was a second-round draft pick in 2014, averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in his 74 games last season and became just the 10th player in the history of the NBA to earn two consecutive MVP awards when he pipped Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers to the honor. 

Jokic has been credited with revolutionizing the role of ‘big men’ in the NBA, with the 6ft 11in behemoth hailed for possessing a range of passing not often seen in players his size – with some suggesting that he has the skills of a point guard but in a center’s frame.

Born on Sombor, Serbia in 1995, Jokic’s talent were first noted in his home country before he was drafted to Denver with the 41st overall pick. He made the 2016 NBA All-Rookie team before graduating to being a four-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA First Team member.

His rise to superstardom has coincided with the emergence of the Nuggets as a postseason threat. In 2020 during the NBA’s Covid-19 ‘bubble’, Denver qualified for the Western Conference finals before they lost out to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the 2022 post-season, Jokic averaged an impressive 31 points in five games played.

Jokic’s new deal will ensure that the Nuggets’ major influences are back on the court together next season after injuries impacted the team in the previous campaign, most notably depriving them of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. for extended periods (or the entire season in Murray’s case).

The move to lock down Jokic is the latest aggressive strategy by the Nuggets as they look to make an impression on the forthcoming NBA campaign – with oddsmakers currently ranking them as the joint-seventh favorites to win the NBA crown next year.

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