David Zalubowski / Associated Press
According to reports, the Denver Nuggets rejected their team option over Nikola Jokic as the first step to negotiate a further extension, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.
With Denver's decision, the center will become a restricted free agent, and the two parties are expected to agree on a maximum contract of $ 146.5 million over five years.
The Jokic 2018-19 option is worth $ 1.6 million.
While exercising the option would allow the Nuggets to keep a high-level player at minimal cost, it would hurt the team's chances of re-signing him as a free agent without restrictions in 2019.
Nick Kosmider of The Athletic badyzed the situation in May:
Nick Kosmider @ NickKosmider
Nikola Jokic's agent says that choosing the player option and letting Jokic become a free agent without restrictions in 2019 would be an unfavorable scenario for Nuggets. This is not a warning. It's common sense Denver will not miss the opportunity to lock up Jokic. The writing is on the wall.
Nuggets Basketball Operations President Tim Connelly made it clear that he has every intention of locking a 23-year-old in a long-term contract.
"Nikola is going to be here for a long, long time," Connelly told reporters on Thursday. "I believe that whatever we do, we will make sure that he is here as long as possible."
Jokic was one of the best men in the NBA last season, averaging 18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.1 badists per game, all of which were career highs. He also led the Nuggets in each category, as the team finished a game outside of a playoff spot.
Although his salary has been relatively low so far as a second-round draft pick in the 2014 draft, he is heading for a major boost next season.