Report: Jokic, Booker, Towns get supermax contract extensions; Morant, Williamson get rookie max extensions

Booker gets supermax extension:

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker agreed on a four-year, $224 million supermax extension; the deal begins in 2024-2025 and brings Booker’s total contract value to six years and $295 million.

The 25-year-old Booker was named All-NBA(First Team) for the first time in his career and averaged a career-best 26.8 points per game (8th in NBA) as he earned his third-straight Al-Star appearance while helping lead the Suns to the NBA’s best record.

Jokic gets supermax extension:

Denver Nuggets two-time MVP Nikola Jokic has agreed to the largest deal in NBA history – a five-year, $270 million supermax contract extension; the deal includes a player option and trade kicker; the total value of Jokic deal: six years and $303 million, according to Wojnarowski,

The reigning MVP averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.47 steals, and 0.85 blocks per game, setting career highs in each category except assists (second highest). The 27-year-old Jokic, who played 74 games and averaged 33.5 minutes, ranked sixth in the NBA in points, second in rebounds, eighth in assists, 12th steals, and 33rd in blocks per game.

The seven-year veteran became the first player in NBA history to record at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a season and was named All-NBA First Team.

KAT gets super max extension:

According to Woj, Minnesota Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns has agreed on a four-year, $224 million supermax extension, which begins in the 2024-25 season and delivers Towns’ total contract value to six years and $295 million.

In his seventh NBA season, the 27-year-old Towns finished the 2021-22 campaign ranked 11th in scoring (24.6 PPG), 14th in rebounding (9.8 RPG), 16th in field goal percentage (52.9%), and 17th in three-point percentage (41.0%).

The three-team All-Star was named All-NBA Third Team.

Morant gets rookie max extension:

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant agreed on a five-year, $193 million designated rookie maximum extension that could become worth $231million, according to Wojnarowski.

Last season, the 22-year-old Morant was named All-NBA Second Team and NBA Most Improved Player after setting career highs for scoring average(27.4 points), rebounds per game(5.7 rebounds), steals per game(1.16), field goal percentage(49.3%) and 3-point percentage(34.4%).

Williamson gets rookie max extension:

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson is nearing a five-year rookie max contract extension worth up to $231 million. The commitment will take Williamson’s new deal through the 2027-28 season.

Williamson, 21, missed all of the 2021-22 season after recovering from foot surgery and has played in only 85 games in three seasons. 

In 2020-21, the last time he was on the court, Williamson averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per contest.

Antetokounmpo, Jokic, Doncic headline First-Team All-NBA

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum have been selected to the 2021-22 All-NBA First Team, the league announced Tuesday.

The All-NBA Second Team consists of Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, and Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan.

The 2021-22 All-NBA Third Team is composed of Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James , Suns guard Chris Paul , Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, and Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam.

Antetokounmpo was the only player to receive All-NBA First Team votes on all 100 ballots (500 total points), earning his fourth consecutive selection to the First Team and sixth All-NBA Team honor overall (First Team, Second Team and Third Team).  This is the third All-NBA First Team selection each for Doncic and Jokic, the 2021-22 NBA Most Valuable Player.  Booker is making his debut on the All-NBA Team, and Tatum joins Booker as a first-time selection to the All-NBA First Team.

With the selection of Antetokounmpo (27 years old), Doncic (23), Jokic (27), Booker (25) and Tatum (24), the All-NBA First Team is made up entirely of players age 27 or younger for the first time in 67 years (1954-55 season).

Embiid, the 2021-22 NBA scoring champion, has been named to the All-NBA Second Team for the fourth time in the last five seasons.  Morant, the 2021-22 NBA Most Improved Player, is an All-NBA Team honoree for the first time.  This is the 10th All-NBA Team selection for Durant, the eighth for Curry and the third for DeRozan.

This is the second All-NBA Team honor for both Towns and Siakam and the first for Young.  James has extended his NBA record for most All-NBA Team selections to 18.  Paul has been voted to the All-NBA Team for the 11th time, the second-most selections among active players behind James.

Nuggets’ Jokic wins NBA MVP for second consecutive season

For the second straight season, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić has been named the 2021-22 NBA Most Valuable Player, the league announced Wednesday.

He becomes the 13th player to win the award in consecutive seasons. The last player to win back-to-back MVP awards was Giannis Antetokounmpo(2019-2020).

Jokić received 875 points (65 first-place votes); Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid finished in second place with 706 points (26 first-place votes), and Antetokounmpo finished in third place with 595 points (nine first-place votes).

According to StatMuse, Jokic’s 65 first-place votes are the fewest for an MVP since Steve Nash in 2005-06.

The 27-year-old Jokić averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.47 steals, and 0.85 blocks per game, setting career highs in each category except assists (second highest). The seven-year veteran, who played 74 games and averaged 33.5 minutes, ranked sixth in the NBA in points, second in rebounds, eighth in assists, 12th steals, and 33rd in blocks per game.  

He became the first player in NBA history to record at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a season and the first player to average at least 25.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in a season. He led the NBA in triple-doubles with 19 and double-doubles with 66(both single-season team records).

This is the first time that both the top three and four of the top five finishers in voting for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award are international players, with Jokić (Serbia), Embiid (Cameroon), and Antetokounmpo (Greece) comprising the top three and Dončić (Slovenia) joining them in the top five. Jokić is the second European player to win the award more than once, joining Antetokounmpo, the MVP in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

You could make a case for Embiid, Antetokounmpo, or Jokić as the league MVP, but in the end, Jokić gets the nod. 

The voting results for the 2021-22 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award are below:

Cavs’ Allen: ‘I’m part of the top 24 players in the NBA at this All-Star Weekend’

After a long wait, Cavs center Jarrett Allen finally got the call for the 2022 All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. Allen, who made the game for the first time in his career as a reserve, along with his teammate Darius Garland, is having a career year as he ranks among NBA leaders in FG% (2nd, .665), double-doubles (T-6th, 30), and RPG (10th, 11.1).

In addition, he’s recorded ten games this season of 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds, and when he records a double-double, Cleveland is 25-5.

All told, Allen, 23, is averaging career-highs in points (16.2), rebounds (11.0), and assists (1.8) per game. 

“It’s still a lot to take in,” Allen said of making the All-Star Game. “I don’t think I’ve fully grasped the moment that I’m in. I’m part of the top 24 players in the NBA at this All-Star Weekend, so I’m just excited; I’m ready to take it all in and just enjoy every moment.”

The five-year veteran has turned himself into one of the better centers in basketball and discussed what it’s like to guard the better bigs in the game like Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid.

On Antetokounmpo:

“I always find it a fun matchup guarding Giannis. He has so many things to his game. He’s starting to add his jump shot to the game. Obviously, he’s a force going to the paint, so it’s an awesome matchup.”

On Jokic:

“Truly difficult to cover. If you let your guard down even for a split second, he’s going to make a pass to the corner. If you let your guard down for a split second, he’s going to somehow do three spin moves on you and have an open lay-up at the rim. He just has so many things to his package that you have to guard.”

On Embiid:

“I mean, obviously, Embiid had the triple-double on me, but Embiid is a brute. Embiid is going to back down; he’s going to punish you, and he has all the skill, but at the same time, Jokic might have a 15-15-15 night. Both matchups are tough.”

At this point, Cleveland(35-23) is the fourth seed in the East and is 2.5 games behind the Bulls and the Heat for the top spot in the conference. Many teams are bunched up in the East, and only five games separate the seventh-seeded Raptors from the Bulls and the Heat.

“I mean, you look at the East, it’s like you win three games, and now you’re all of a sudden a seven seed,” Allen said. “It’s a crazy race, and it’s those big moves that could change a lot.”

So much could change from this point until the end of the season. With 24 games left, Cleveland is in a prime position to do big things in the East. We’ll see how that works out the rest of the way, but for now, Allen should enjoy All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.

 

Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Curry, Leonard, Doncic named to First Team All-NBA

League MVP Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Luka Doncic were named to the 2020-21 All-NBA First Team, the league announced on Tuesday.

Antetokounmpo was the only player to receive All-NBA First Team votes on all 100 ballots, earning his third consecutive First Team selection and fifth All-NBA Team honor overall. Jokic, the first player to be named the NBA MVP as a member of the Nuggets, received 99 First Team votes to make the First Team for the second time in the last three seasons. Curry, who averaged an NBA-leading 32.0 points this season, received 98 First Team votes in his fourth selection to the First Team and seventh All-NBA Team honor overall.

Leonard was voted to the All-NBA First Team for the third time and earned his fifth All-NBA Team selection. The 22-year-old Doncic has been selected to the All-NBA First Team for the second season in a row. He is the first player to make the All-NBA First Team at least twice in his first three NBA seasons since Tim Duncan (three times from 1997-98 – 1999-2000).

The 2020-21 All-NBA Second Team consists of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.

The 2020-21 All-NBA Third Team is composed of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, Clippers forward Paul George, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

James has extended his league record for most All-NBA Team selections to 17, including a record 13 selections to the First Team, three to the Second Team, and one to the Third Team. Paul has been voted to the All-NBA Team for the 10th time, the second-most among active players behind James.

This is the sixth All-NBA Team selection for Lillard and George, the fourth for Gobert and Butler, and the third for Embiid and Irving. Randle and Beal have each been selected to the All-NBA Team for the first time.

Suns’ Williams on Paul: ‘He’s putting guys in position to score the ball, but again, he’s done that his whole career’

The Phoenix Suns are one win away from getting to the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Denver Nuggets 116-102 at Ball Arena on Friday night.

Phoenix has a commanding 3-0 series lead with an opportunity to sweep this second-round best-of-seven-series in Game 4 in Denver on Sunday night. 

The Suns have not been to the conference finals since 2010.

All five Suns’ starters scored in double figures, led by Devin Booker’s 28 points, six rebounds, and four assists, Chris Paul’s 27 points, eight assists, and six rebounds, and Deandre Ayton had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Nikola Jokic, who received his MVP trophy on Friday night, had a triple-double and led the Nuggets with 32 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists—joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain as the only two others players in NBA history to have a 30/20/10 game in the playoffs.

The Suns had another big third quarter in Game 3 and outscored the Nuggets 31-21 on Friday night. In total, Phoenix has outscored Denver by 29 points in the third quarter this series.

The moment Paul got right from the shoulder injury was the moment Phoenix started to take off in these playoffs. The Suns have won six straight in the playoffs by an average of 17 points per game. Paul has 34 assists and three turnovers in this series against the Nuggets. Also, Paul has been magical in the fourth quarter in this series against Denver; Paul has scored 30 points, including eight points on Friday night, on 12-13 from the field, with eight assists and zero turnovers. 

“He an unbelievable basketball player, but he has an unbelievable mind and will to play the game,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said about Paul. “So, I’m not even sure he even thinks about the turnovers. I think he’s just trying to make the right plays. He’s putting guys in position to score the ball, but again, he’s done that his whole career.

Despite being down 3-0, Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, whose team came back from 3-1 twice in the playoffs last season, hopes his team can be the first to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs in NBA history.

“As far as the 3-0 deficit, yes, history is not on our side,” Malone said. “But you know what? We have rewritten history the last couple of years. When we were down 3-1 twice last year, it was never about trying to win three more games. It was about winning the next game, winning the first quarter, winning the second quarter, and that’s got to be our mindset.”

Denver appears to be a team that has run out of gas. They are without their second-best player in point guard Jamal Murray, which puts more pressure on Jokic, who can’t do any more than what he did on Friday night. 

This series probably over. No one has come back from 3-0 in NBA history, and barring a miracle, it probably does not happen in this series.

Suns’ Paul on Game 1: ‘It was fun to get out there and be involved’

In Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals matchup between the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns, the game changed in the third quarter.

Denver led 70-60 with just over eight minutes left in the quarter. From there, the Suns outscored the Nuggets 28-9 in the third quarter and would win Game 1 122-105 at Phoenix Suns Arena on Monday night.

We may have finally seen a healthy Chris Paul. In the fourth quarter, Paul, who had been battling a shoulder injury, scored 10 straight points. Paul(6-6 fg) had 14 of his 21 points in the quarter. He also added 11 assists.

Phoenix’s five starters all scored in double figures, led by Mikal Bridges’ 23 points. 

“The only way you get a chance to see how it is is during the game,” Paul said about his shoulder. “It was good. It was fun to get out there and be involved. That last series was, that was tough. I’m glad to be back helping the team.”

Devin Booker, who scored 21 points on Monday night, added this on Paul: “He just made plays… Not only scoring ability but getting everybody else involved. That’s been the story of the season for us.”

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Phoenix.

A big matchup in this series is the center battle between MVP Nikola Jokic and Deandre Ayton. Jokic(23) outscored Ayton(20), but Jokic had more field goal attempts(23) than Ayton(13), and Ayton(10) had more rebounds than Jokic(9).

Before the game, Jokic said Ayton gives him trouble. After the Suns’ win, Ayton talked Jokic.

“I love playing against Jokic, man,” Ayton said. “That’s the MVP of our league. He has so much; he has a lot to cover. Dude can do anything. That’s just the modern center there… We just have to keep competing and stay locked in.”

Phoenix is at its best when Paul is healthy, which we saw in Game 1. The Suns not only have an excellent team, but they have a great home crowd who was into the game from start to finish

The Nuggets will make adjustments, and we’ll see how much that will help in Game 2.

Watch as Paul, Ayton, Booker, and Bridges react to team’s win Game 1 win over Denver:

Jokic, Embiid, Curry announced as finalists for MVP

On Thursday, the NBA today announced the finalists for six awards that honor top performers for the 2020-21 regular season: NBA Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, NBA Most Valuable Player, NBA Rookie of the Year, and NBA Sixth Man.

The three finalists for each annual award are based on voting results from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. 

TNT will announce the winner of each award during its coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. 

Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Steph Curry are the three finalists for MVP. Jokic, who played all 72 regular-season games for the Nuggets, is the favorite. He had 16 triple-doubles this season and averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. Embiid, who averaged 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, led the 76ers to the best record in the NBA. However, he’s missed 21 games, and while Curry ranked first in the NBA in scoring (32.0 ppg) and 3-pointers made (337), fifth in free throw percentage (.916 FT%), the Warriors are still fighting to make the playoffs. 

Jokic will probably walk home with the award.

Below are the finalists for the five other awards in the NBA:

Coach of the Year

Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz
Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks
Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns

Defensive Player of the Year

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Sixth Man

Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz
Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
Derrick Rose, New York Knicks

Most Improved Player

Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Rookie of the Year

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

Spurs’ Popovich thinks Jokic could be the best passer in basketball

It has been rough sledding for the San Antonio Spurs of late. San Antonio has lost five straight and 10 of their last 12, including Friday’s 121-119 loss to the Nuggets, as Denver swept the two-game set at Ball Arena and extended their winning streak to eight games.

Denver(34-18) defeated the Spurs 106-96 on Wednesday night.

The Spurs trailed by as much as 18 points in the first half on Friday night but made a furious run in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie, but Keldon Johnson came up short on his drive to the basket, and DeMar DeRozan missed a putback at the buzzer.

It appeared that San Antonio could get routed in this contest. The Spurs never led in this game and trailed by 13 points entering the fourth quarter. However, Derrick White did everything in his power to bring the Spurs back, including scoring 14 of his team-high 25 points in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough.

On Friday night, San Antonio saw the greatness of Nikola Jokic on full display. Jokic had a triple-double with 26 points, 14 assists, and 13 rebounds, and in the two-game set against the Spurs, Jokic averaged 25.5 points, 12.0 assists, and 11 rebounds.

After the loss to the Nuggets, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had high praise for the three-time All-Star.

“That’s why they are a helluva team,” Popovich said. “Jokic is maybe the best passer in the league. Certainly, the best big-man passer and better than most wings, so sure, he sets the table for everybody; he’s great.”

Jokic is special and a legitimate MVP candidate. There are not many things he can’t do on a basketball court, and with the addition of Aaron Gordon before the trade deadline, Denver looks like a team that can make a run at an NBA title.

As for the Spurs(24-26), who are 9th in the Western Conference, it does not get any easier as they continue their five-game road trip on Sunday night against the Mavericks.

Watch below as Pop talks Jokic:

Spurs’ Popovich: ‘The group understands no defense, no wins’

The San Antonio Spurs(11-8) are taking advantage of some home cooking right now. San Antonio is in the midst of a seven-game homestand and beat a very good Denver Nuggets(11-8) team last night 119-109. 

San Antonio is 3-1 on this homestand.

DeMar DeRozan was the star of the game for the Spurs. DeRozan was 11/14 from the field with 30 points and 10 assists, and Dejounte Murray poured in 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter.

DeRozan played an efficient game on Friday night, and according to him, he just took what the defense gave him.

“I just go out there and play,” he said. “I don’t go out there and try to do too much. I try to treat it like it’s a chess game. Just go out there and take what they give me, play the right way, be aggressive, and never try to force anything. That’s just my mindset when I go out there and play.”

Nikola Jokic led Denver with a game-high 35 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. 

San Antonio led 87-86 going into the fourth quarter, and in that final period, the Spurs stepped up the defense. After a Jokic three that tied the game at 95 midway through the fourth, the Spurs went on a 24-14 run to finish the game. 

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was happy with his team’s defense. According to Pop, defense leads to wins. 

“They did a good job,” Pop said. “Denver is one of the toughest teams to guard. They have such great movement. They’re so well-coached. They’re consistent night after night in what they do, and we were able to show some darn good aggressiveness…

“We got some young kids setting the tone defensively. We’re more athletic in that regard, and I think as a whole, the group understands that no defense, no wins.”

DeRozan added about the defense: “Play with a lot of energy, scrambled. The guy was helping the next guy. Whenever we made a mistake, we were aggressive. We kind of set the tone.”

Defense wins championship, and in the last two games against Boston and Denver, San Antonio has played well on the defensive end in the fourth quarter, which is one reason they have won three straight games. They go for a fourth consecutive victory on Saturday night against Memphis.