Nikola Jokic says he’ll sign supermax, Michael Malone anticipates Jamal Murray’s return as Denver Nuggets’ season ends
SAN FRANCISCO — Following a historic season that could lead to a second MVP trophy, Nikola Jokic said he will sign what is expected to be the largest supermax contract extension in NBA history with the Denver Nuggets this offseason.
Jokic poured in 30 points, 19 rebounds and 8 assists in Game 5 of the Nuggets’ first-round series Wednesday night, but they were eliminated with a 102-98 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Jokic now is eligible to receive a supermax contract extension that will be worth $254 million over five years, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
“I would like it, of course,” Jokic said when asked about a contract extension. “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 reigning MVP delivered a historic individual season that could lead to a second consecutive MVP trophy. Jokic, 27, became the first player with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a season. He also became the first to average 25 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in a season, and the first to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and field goal percentage in a season since steals and blocks became official in 1973-74, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.
In typical Jokic fashion, the center downplayed his individual success and a possible second straight MVP trophy.
“I mean, I never dream about it,” Jokic said of the possibility of winning a second MVP. “It’s something that if it happened, it’s a great thing of course. It’s something that probably legacy, my name is always going to be there.
“But if I don’t get it, I’m not going to die. … It would be nice, but if it happens, happens.”
Despite Jokic’s efforts, the Nuggets were sent into the offseason with a rather one-sided loss for the second straight year. They were swept by the Phoenix Suns in the second round last postseason and this time lost in the first round in five games.
Of course, the Nuggets did not have Jamal Murray for either of those two postseasons after left ACL surgery, and Michael Porter Jr. missed most of this season after undergoing a third back surgery.
“I think it’s scary to think about that,” Denver coach Michael Malone said of adding a healthy Murray and Porter to the lineup with Jokic. “I go back to last season before Jamal’s injury in this building. We felt we had a legitimate chance to win a championship last year. Unfortunately it just wasn’t in the cards for us. … You’re playing without two max players that have both helped us advance out of the first round the last three years.”
Malone did temper expectations for Murray at the start of next season, when he is expected to play again for the first time since suffering the ACL injury on April 12, 2021.
“The future’s definitely bright,” Malone said. “I think we also have to understand that Jamal Murray to start the season next year is not going to be the Jamal Murray [we know] right away. I think it’s going to be a buildup, him getting comfortable and confident out there.
“But I did [think about having him] during the first two games here, I went back, couldn’t sleep one night. At 3 in the morning, I was looking at Jamal’s stats in the bubble [in the 2020 postseason]. Wow. I knew he was good, but sometimes you forget how good he was. That’s the thing about Jamal, when the stakes are at their highest, he steps up. He’s never afraid of the moment. Michael Porter, what he did last year in 10 playoff games, 17 points, six rebounds, more importantly shooting a high clip from the 3-point line. Shooting makes up for so many things. Jamal and Michael can do that.”
Jokic said there are still plenty of unknowns for the nuggets, who made the Western Conference finals in the 2020 postseason bubble, even once they are healthy again.
“We don’t know what we can do because we weren’t healthy,” Jokic said. “Do we have some talent? Yes. 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 we going to work together. That’s the only thing. That’s the question. You cannot know that until you start playing.”