NBA free agency: Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic agrees to largest contract in NBA history

After winning MVP for a second consecutive season, Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic is set to be rewarded with the largest contract in NBA history. Jokic has agreed to a five-year, $264 million supermax extension, according to Shams Charania. The final year of the deal will be a player option worth a staggering $60 million.

A second-round pick in 2014, Jokic arrived in the NBA for the 2015-16 season as a complete unknown to most observers. It didn’t take long for him to start making a name for himself, however, as he finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting and made All-Rookie First Team.

Jokic’s vision and talent as a passer quickly made him one of the most unique big men in the league, and as he grew in confidence and ability he soon became a League Pass favorite. A run to the Western Conference finals in the bubble in 2020 helped introduce him to a larger audience, and everything coalesced the last two seasons with back-to-back MVP awards.

Jokic averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game last season while shooting 58.3 percent from the field. All of those numbers save for the assists were career-highs. He made all sorts of history along the way, including becoming the first player ever to register at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season.

Almost singlehandedly, Jokic led the Nuggets to 48 wins and the No. 6 seeds in the Western Conference. But without Michael Porter Jr. (back surgery) and Jamal Murray (torn ACL), the Nuggets were no match for the eventual champion Golden State Warriors, and bowed out of the playoffs in the first round.

But with Porter and Murray both expected back next season, there are high hopes for the Nuggets. During a brief window following their trade for Aaron Gordon at the deadline in 2021, the Nuggets looked like one of the best teams in the league. Then, Murray blew out his knee, and they’ve been stuck in limbo ever since.

Whether they can get back to those highs remains to be seen, and depends on Murray, and Porter to a bigger extent given his extensive back problems, staying healthy. But with Jokic leading the way, and committed to the team long term, the Nuggets have a chance.

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