NUGGETS

Nikola Jokic: If Luka gets pissed in Dallas, he can come to Denver

Feb 20, 2024, 11:24 AM

Everyone knows that the Heat’s Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh got together in 2010 after the three bonded during the 2008 Olympics, could something similar have happened with a future star paring during the 2024 All-Star Game?

Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic’s off-court kinship has long been known, with the two Balkan brothers breaking bread during the bubble, then one coming to the other’s birthday party, all the while always sharing much mutual respect for each other over the years. Their usual All-Star Weekend bromance stepped up a level in Indy over the weekend.

Doncic gave Jokic a big hug when he first saw him in the locker room. Jokic returned the favor by dumping water on Doncic during his media availability. The two then combined forces to get Steph Curry Dunked on but not before having the cutest little time during practice. There Jokic mocked Luka and the two spent a lot of time throwing some brotherly shoves.

So what? Friends having a healthy relationship and enjoying some rare time to see each other—probably. But Jokic, in Serbian let it slip that the two could be together more in the future.

“I don’t know if it’s possible. I don’t want to leave Denver,” Jokic said in a translated answer. “I like it here, and it’s a great organization. If Luka gets pissed off in Dallas, then he can come.”

YouTube video

Jokic reaffirmed he’s never leaving Denver. He also again expressed that he would enjoy playing with the Slovenia star, saying at another point during All-Star Weekend that Doncic would be in his current starting five of European players. And whether it had been opened behind the scenes or not, the door is now wide open for the possibility of Luka coming to Denver.

Doncic is signed through the 2026-27 season, but that doesn’t matter much in an NBA where in the last 13 months Dame Lillard requested a trade in Portland before his supermax contract extension even kicked in and Kevin Durant’s trade request with several years left on his contract was honored.

The Nuggets do not have the draft picks required to make such a move. They can’t trade any first-round picks until Draft night this summer when they can just deal this year’s first—and they won’t be able to touch the new first that comes available to them seven years out since a new CBA rule stipulates second-apron luxury tax teams such as the Nuggets can not deal that selection until going under the tax.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks might have even less than the Nuggets going into the future. And that’s what makes Jokic’s quote somewhat serious even if it was a joke—it’s never quite clear how serious he’s being. There is a very real word where Donic forces his way out of Dallas. The Mavs have already mortgaged a lot of their future on a series of trades that didn’t all that much propel the present. Last season the team missed the playoffs and the team has traded major pieces to get Kristaps Porzingis, getting off of Porzingis’ contract, acquiring Kyrie Irving and at the same time making the mistake of letting now All-Star Jalen Brunson walk. ESPN has reported in the past there was fear in Dallas that Luka would leave in the future and that Doncic has privately shared some frustration.

Dallas is better this year with Doncic again in the MVP race, scoring a league-best 34.2 points per game on 49% shooting and 38% from deep, while adding nine rebounds and 10 assists per game.

For Denver, Jokic’s current partner Jamal Murray is playing out his contract extension for now since he’s trying to earn a supermax deal that would give him millions of more dollars. Murray is a free agent after next season and is scoring over 20 points per game for a third-straight season while tossing a career-high seven assists per game and shooting a career-best 41% from deep. There’s no doubt Luka is the better player than Murray but which would make for the better partner for Jokic is anyone’s guess. The thing Murray has on most players is his playoff resume, something that’s not necessarily true of Doncic, who has twice led a postseason in scoring over 30 points a game and has pushed the Mavs to a conference finals run. At the end of the day, it’s Murray, who is two years older, and has 25 more postseason games played, that has the title and a 50-point game in the playoffs.

If there is ever a deal for Denver and Dallas, it’s probably going to include Murray and either Aaron Gordon or Michael Porter Jr. as well as a heaping of other assets to start a Mavs rebuild

So what could Jokic and Luka look like playing together? Well, it’s ridiculous and it was on display for a moment on Sunday.

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