The Denver Nuggets declined the team option on Nikola Jokic's contract on Monday as they prepare to sign him to a huge long-term deal.
The franchise had a $1.5 million option on his existing contract and would've risked seeing him become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 if they'd exercised it.
By declining it, Jokic will be a restricted free agent next month and it will allow the Nuggets to tie him down to a long deal.
Locking him down
They're expected to offer the 23-year-old a five-year deal worth $147 million and negotiations could be concluded as early as July 1 as both parties are keen on getting it done, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Serbian established himself as a star last season and Denver's most important player.
He averaged 18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists in the 2017-18 campaign and led the team to 46 wins.
The Colorado-based outfit agonisingly missed out on a playoff spot after losing the final game of the regular season to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a winner takes all encounter for the eighth seed.
Jokic has been a revelation for the Nuggets after being selected with the 41st pick in the 2014 draft.
He has blossomed into one of the most talented big men in the league and is on the verge of becoming an All-Star.
Speaking to reporters after last week's draft, Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly made it clear that they have every intention of locking down the center's future in Denver.
"Nikola's going to be here for a long, long time," Connelly said, per Gina Mizell of the Denver Post. "I think whatever we do, we're going to ensure he's here as long as possible."
As a second-round draft pick, Jokic has been on a modest contract since he entered the league but he's now set to earn a huge pay rise which will reflect his importance to the team.
The Nuggets have assembled an exciting young team that is on the cusp of becoming contenders in the Western Conference.
Jokic is the leader on a team that also features an impressive core of Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray.
They also pulled off a real coup in the draft with the acquisition of talented forward Michael Porter Jr., who surprisingly fell to them at number 14.
If he can overcome his injuries, Denver will have a terrific prospect on their hands.
Fans in the Mile High City should be optimistic as their team is certainly building something special.
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