NEW YORK, July 1 — Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets agreed Thursday to a five-year deal worth US$256 million (RM1.1 billion), the richest contract in NBA history, according to The Athletic.

Jokic is expected to sign the deal on Friday, the start of the NBA league year, with the base contract covering the next four years. The Athletic reported the fifth year of the deal is a player option for the 2027-28 season worth US$60 million.

Jokic edged 76ers center Joel Embiid in voting for the 2021-22 MVP award, becoming the 13th back-to-back winner, and was again named All-NBA First Team.

Jokic averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.47 steals in 74 games last season for the Nuggets. He led the NBA with 19 triple-doubles and became the first player in NBA history to record at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a season.

“I don’t know what else you can say about Nikola at this point,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “He’s consistently improved his game, he’s consistently proven people wrong when they doubt him and he’s consistently the best player on the floor night in and night out. I’ve said it many times before, I’m extremely grateful to coach Nikola Jokic and just as grateful for the bond that we’ve built off the court in our seven years together.” The others to win consecutive MVPs are Antetokounmpo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Stephen Curry, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Moses Malone, Steve Nash and Bill Russell.

Jokic typically downplays his success but he is well aware he is now running with great company after a second MVP award.

“Right now, I don’t think about it,” Jokic said of winning the award. “But when I’m old, fat and grumpy, hopefully I’m going to remember and tell my kids that back in the day I was pretty good at playing basketball.

“Everybody knows I’m the same guy so hopefully I’m going to stay the same after this. Just to be in that company of Wilt and all the guys that made history in this league and this sport. That tells a lot and means a lot to have a legacy like that.” — Field Level Media/Reuters