Nikola Jokic included on Team Serbia preliminary Olympics roster

Nikola Jokic has remained noncommittal about whether he will play for the Serbian national team in the 2024 Paris Olympics, but Serbia included him on a preliminary roster Monday.

Nikola Jokic included on Team Serbia preliminary Olympics roster

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was included on the Serbian national team’s preliminary 16-man roster for the upcoming Paris Olympics, the nation’s basketball federation announced Monday, dispelling uncertainty about the superstar’s status for the tournament.

Jokic, who became the ninth NBA player in history to win league MVP three times this May, has not publicly declared any plans to join his national team in the Olympics. When he was most recently asked, after the Nuggets’ season ended in the second round of the playoffs, he remained noncommittal.

“I don’t know, my friend. We will see,” Jokic said then. “I need to think about it.”

The 29-year-old most recently competed for Serbia in the 2022 EuroBasket tournament. He did not participate in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, citing the length of the NBA season after leading Denver to its first championship. The playoffs traditionally extend into mid-June for teams that reach the NBA Finals.

But this year, Jokic’s summer started earlier than expected — with the Nuggets blowing a 20-point lead to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a winner-take-all Game 7 that would have sent them to the Western Conference Finals, if they had won. In early June, Jokic was seen on a river-rafting trip with friends back in Serbia, where he prefers to spend his offseasons.

The 16-man preliminary roster, selected by national team coach Svetislav Pesic, featured several other NBA players: Bogdan Bogdanovic (Atlanta Hawks), Nikola Jovic (Miami Heat), Vasilije Micic (Charlotte Hornets) and Aleksej Pokusevski (Hornets).

Nuggets assistant coach Ognjen Stojakovic will also return to the national team’s coaching staff for the Olympics, he told The Denver Post. Stojakovic debuted on Pesic’s staff at last summer’s World Cup, taking home a FIBA silver medal after losing to Germany in the final.

Thanks to that silver-medal run, Serbia has already automatically qualified for the 12-team Olympic tournament, which will take place in Lille and Paris, France. Serbia will play its first group stage game July 28 against a United States roster that will include Joel Embiid, LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and other NBA stars. South Sudan will also compete in Serbia’s group. The fourth team is to be determined, with qualifying tournaments still taking place this summer leading up to the Paris Games.

Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray has verbally committed to the Canadian national team, which will share a group with Australia and two other teams. And Nuggets power forward Vlatko Cancar is expected to return from a torn ACL to help Slovenia in its Olympic qualifying tournament, general manager Calvin Booth said in May.