SAN FRANCISCO – In the aftermath of Wednesday’s season-ending loss to the Warriors, Nikola Jokic said he intended to sign a supermax deal with the Nuggets this offseason if the organization was to offer it.
On the verge of a potential second consecutive MVP, the Nuggets have no reason not to ensure the best player the franchise has ever known remains in a Nuggets uniform for the years to come.
“If offer’s on the table, of course, I’m gonna accept it because I really like the organization,” said Jokic following the Nuggets’ Game 5 loss to Golden State. “I really like the people who work here.”
After winning his initial MVP award last season, Jokic became eligible for a five-year extension worth roughly $241 million dollars, but because he’d only been in the NBA for six seasons, he needed to wait until this offseason to sign it.
Jokic, with one year left on his existing deal, didn’t hedge at all when he was asked about the potential extension that would begin in the 2023-24 season and run through the 2027-28 season.
Jokic cited the deep relationships he’s established in the Nuggets organization, mentioning everyone from the team’s Governors to their equipment managers, then turned his attention to the talent foundation that’s already in-house.
“I think we have something that we are building,” he said.
Jokic, who registered 30 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists playing through a tight hamstring, nearly willed the Nuggets to a gripping road win that would’ve sent their first-round series back to Denver. Instead, the Nuggets managed only 6-of-29 from the 3-point line and couldn’t withstand the Warriors’ fourth-quarter run.
But next season, when the Nuggets will have a healthy Jamal Murray and a healthy Michael Porter Jr., that help should be there.
“Do we have some talent? Yes,” Jokic said. “Can we do something? Probably you can see through the league teams are making super teams and they’re not making any success, let’s say like that. I think we have talent. We have players. We have pieces. We have tools. The only thing is are we going to work together. That’s the only thing.”
With the season over, Jokic, adorned in a comfy green sweatsuit, said he intended to head back to Serbia “as soon as possible.”
Indifferent to the spotlight, he was unconcerned whether he was also on the verge of a second consecutive MVP.
“But if I don’t get it, I’m not going to die,” he said.
But if he does win it, he said he’d celebrate with music, beer, friends and family.
“Like how you supposed to do, probably,” he said.
The award would culminate an improbable season of historical feats, and one in which he hauled his beleaguered team to 48 wins in the Western Conference.
Said DeMarcus Cousins of Jokic’s ascendance, “probably one of the best, outside of Russ (Westbrook), probably one of the most disrespected MVPs in this league.”
Jokic’s load this season was immense. As Aaron Gordon and Will Barton assumed roles larger than they were initially slated for, Jokic was the one expected to make up the difference. On occasion, he alluded to a mental toll that was taxing then admitted he was looking forward to unplugging.
“Just going home, being around my family, being around my friends, being around my horses,” he said. “I have a daughter now, so it’s going to be even better.”
After elevating his daughter and deeming her “the most important thing,” Jokic was asked about perceived respect among his peers. The reigning MVP shrugged his shoulders and shook off the attention like he’d done dozens of other times this season.
“Can’t care less, brother,” he said, before walking off the podium and into a well-deserved offseason. Even if he didn’t care publicly, the respect he’d garnered from the Warriors, and specifically, Golden State’s defensive mastermind Draymond Green, was obvious.
“I just told him thank you for making me better,” Green said. “It’s absolutely incredible to play against a guy like that, incredible, incredible talent. Just told him thank you for making me better. It’s an honor and a pleasure to play against someone so talented and so skilled.”