Jim Keeler is working as a multimedia sports producer for The Post and has covered football, basketball, track and field, golf and tennis for The Denver Post and The Denver Channel for 20 years. A lifelong Cal-Berkeley fan and basketball season ticket holder, Keeler graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor’s degree in English.
Don’t fool with Nikola! If you don’t want to know how much it’s going to cost to keep the basketball-playing big man off the court, listen to what Nuggets vice president and general manager Arturas Karnisovas has said, after he and owner Phillip Anschutz finally got around to honoring the extended contract of 6-foot-10 point guard Nikola Jokic for the 2017-18 season and beyond, at their season-ending press conference.
“Nikola is the cornerstone of our team moving forward,” said Karnisovas, who plays the thankless role of bad GM when he’s making moves the public does not want to hear. “Nikola is a young, talented player in the prime of his career. It was a big deal. We want to keep him for a long time. We want to extend him. That wasn’t a reason to not give him an extension. It was a rational reason, like when you renew a car, we talked about if it’s not working, you’re going to pay a lot more, take a risk or something like that.”
He was talking about Jokic’s cap number, which landed at $20.5 million in 2015-16, when the Nuggets traded for Jokic before last season.
Karnisovas then moved onto players coming off the books to the end of the current three-year contract of the centers, Kenneth Faried ($9.3 million in 2017-18, $13.3 million in 2018-19) and Jusuf Nurkic ($10.9 million in 2018-19).
And don’t get him started.
“Now that we gave him an extension and compensation, now we have a decision on Michael Porter Jr., who is in a draft situation,” Karnisovas said. “He will enter the draft lottery (Thursday). Will we meet that need and sign him and have two big men off the contract? Is it Michael’s time?”
Karnisovas’ first job as a Nuggets official was in sports-talk radio in Cleveland as a local host for Sports 88.7. He quickly became the producer for the “Stayin’ Alive” crew, making a bit of a name for himself doing what was then seen as slick stuff in sports.
Soon after joining the Nuggets, he’d become a pivotal player in basketball and public relations.
“It’s a good job that pays a lot of money,” Karnisovas said of his new position. “I like it.”
At least he has a little more money to spend.