Breaking news: : The first day of the NBA free agent market was very active. While the total value of the signings on the first day exceeded 1.5 billion dollars, Nikola Jokic, the most valuable player of the last two seasons, signed the biggest contract in history. Here are the important signings of the free agent market and the remarkable life story of Nikola Jokic, who used to drink 2-3 liters of Coke a day…
Following last week’s NBA draft, the free agent market has officially begun. Players whose contracts with their teams expired or entered their option periods signed long-term, high-dollar contracts.
The total value of signings on the first day of the free agent market exceeded 1.5 billion dollars.
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NIKOLA JOKIC MAKES HISTORY
Nikola Jokic, the MVP of the last two NBA regular seasons, signed a 5-year, $264 million contract with the Denver Nuggets. This signing made history as the highest paid contract in NBA history. The Serbian star will have a $60 million exit option for the 2027/28 season.
In 74 games this season, the 27-year-old averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks in 33.5 minutes per game. The Serbian center’s scoring and rebounding numbers were the highest of his career, while he ranked 8th in the league in assists. Jokic also finished the season with 58% field goal accuracy and 81% free throw accuracy. Jokic also became the first player in history to surpass the 2000 points, 1000 rebounds and 500 assists thresholds in a season.
Jokic recorded 16 triple-doubles in the 2020/21 season, up from 19 last season. Jokic became the first player since Karl Malone to record a double-double with 35 or more points in five straight games.
OTHER NOTABLE DEALS OF THE FIRST DAY
Bradley Beal with the Washington Wizards for 5 years and $251 million; Devin Booker with the Phoenix Suns for 5 years and $224 million; Ja Morant with the Memphis Grizzlies for 5 years and $193 million; Zach LaVine with the Chicago Bulls for 5 years and $215 million; Karl-Anthony Towns with the Minnesota Timberwolves for 4 years and $224 million; Lu Dort with the Oklahoma City Thunder for 5 years and $87.5 million.
KEVIN DURANT AND KYRIE IRVING ASK FOR TRADE
Basketball stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who played together for the Brooklyn Nets last season, asked the Nets management for a trade on the first day of free agency. Both players have been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, with Kyrie Irving especially eager to go to the Lakers.
100 MILLION DOLLAR TRADE FOR JALEN BRUNSON
The New York Knicks, who sent Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and a second-round draft pick in 2023 (Pistons), 2024 (Heat) and $6 million to the Detroit Pistons at the start of free agency to free up salary cap space, signed Jalen Brunson from the Dallas Mavericks to a 4-year, $104 million contract.
THE MOVIE-LIKE STORY OF TWO-TIME CONSECUTIVE MVP NIKOLA JOKIC
The career path of Nikola Jokic, who made NBA history, has been more difficult than expected. Not only those around him, but also himself didn’t expect him to reach this level…
Born in 1995 in Serbia, Nikola Jokic had a family of athletes, but his childhood was financially difficult. His older brother Strahinja played college basketball in Europe and his younger brother Nemanja played college basketball at the University of Detroit Mercy in the USA.
HE STAYED IN EUROPE FOR 1 YEAR AFTER THE DRAFT
Jokic started his basketball career in the youth team of Vojvodina Srbijagas club, but his dominant performance attracted the attention of Mega Vizura team and he started his professional basketball career in 2012. After spending most of the season with the youth team, Nikola Jokic had the chance to play in the Serbian League with the A team. A year later, Nikola Jokic got more time and responsibility with the team and at the end of that year he participated in the 2014 NBA Draft and was selected 41st overall by the Denver Nuggets. However, he continued to play for Mega Vizura for one more year and made his NBA debut in the 2015 – 2016 season.
TACO COMMERCIAL DETAIL…
The most interesting detail about the day Jokic was drafted was that the TV went off the air during Jokic’s selection and a taco commercial came on…
“I PLAYED TERRIBLE, BARCELONA DIDN’T MAKE ME AN OFFER”
Jokic, who Barcelona wanted to sign before he left for the NBA, played one last game before his transfer. When the Serbian star failed to show any presence in that game, especially in defense, the Catalan team decided not to make the transfer and Jokic signed for Mega Vizura for one more year. Regarding the match against Cedevita Zagreb, Jokic said: “They came to make me an offer in that match, but I performed so badly that they put it on hold.”
“I DRANK 2-3 LITERS OF COKE EVERY DAY”
In an interview in Serbia in January 2022, the Serbian star made it clear that he would prioritize his physique, saying: “I used to drink 2 or 3 liters of Coke every day. I had my last Coke on the flight to the USA and I never drank it again”.
LOST 35 KILOS AT FIRST
Nikola Jokic lost 35 kilos before his American career and took his first serious step to get rid of his bulky appearance and adapt to the NBA’s pace. Although he didn’t expect to play much, he managed to finish his rookie season among the best. From the first day he stepped into the NBA, Jokic started to make a difference on the court and stunned all the authorities, raising his personal and team stats with each new season. Named to the best rookie team in his first year, the Serbian star was named to both the All-Star and All-NBA Team in 2018/19 and won the MVP award last year.
“AT THE BEGINNING I WAS JUST TAKING UP SPACE BUT…”
“I struggled in the first week of practice,” said the Serbian star, “All my teammates were more physical and athletic players. They could dunk the way they wanted and after seeing them, I wanted to come back home somehow. At the beginning I was just taking up space on the bench, but now I’m in my 7th season”, the Serbian star summarized his early NBA career.
HE LOST WEIGHT ONCE AGAIN AND GOT MVP
The 27-year-old Jokic, who signed a 5-year, $148 million contract with the Denver Nuggets in 2018, continued to invest in his physique after the 2019/20 Bubble Season, which was held under the influence of the coronavirus pandemic, and announced in February of last season that he had lost a total of nearly 25 pounds. Jokic’s perseverance earned him last season’s MVP award.