NBA Season Restart 2019-20

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic arrives in Orlando

The Denver Nuggets big man is on campus.

Nikola Jokic has arrived in Orlando after missing the team’s flight last week due to coronavirus protocol.

He apparently has been on Disney’s campus since Saturday, but was in quarantine, New York Times’ Marc Stein reports. Jokic tested positive for the coronavirus in late June while in Serbia.

He was required to produce several negative tests before he could join the team at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the location of the 2019-20 season restart.

It’s a sigh of relief for the Nuggets, one of the best of the 22 teams invited to continue play. Jokic, a two-time All-Star, was averaging 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists before the campaign came to a halt in March. He’s been the team’s MVP and has Denver in contention for a top two seed.

“It was great to see him,” coach Mike Malone said on Tuesday. “He’s in great spirits. I think I can speak for everybody on our staff and our roster. Having him around is just very uplifting. Nikola is a big part of what we’re trying to do. Having him here finally is great, obviously. It was wonderful to see him walk through those doors.”

Jokic looked trim in photos during the hiatus, which sparked questions about how the weight loss would impact the two-time All-Star. Jokic isn’t concerned.

“About the pictures, to be honest, I just see how people don’t see the changes,” Jokic said. “I didn’t lose that much [weight during] the quarantine […] So, I was pretty much the same weight the last game of the season. There’s a little bit of a difference, I think like, three, four, five pounds. Not a big difference.”

The Nuggets will play their first scrimmage game on July 22 against the Washington Wizards. Their first seeding game will be on Aug. 1 against the Miami Heat on ESPN (1 p.m. ET)

“I’m just happy to be here to finally come to Orlando to be with the team. Maybe I’m going to surprise everybody, maybe I’m not gonna be good. So, we will see.”