Serbia’s Jokic to skip at least Olympic qualifying

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic announced in a statement obtained by ESPN on Wednesday that he will not be joining the Serbian national basketball team for at least the Olympic qualifying tournament.

“The simple condition of my body requires a longer absence from the field for recovery,” Jokic wrote in a translated statement, adding that it was at the Nuggets’ suggestion “and an inevitability that I must accept.”

It remains unclear whether Jokic will skip the Tokyo Games should Serbia qualify.

Jokic has appeared in all 109 of the Nuggets’ games since Aug. 1 and finished the season third in total minutes with 2,488.

Serbian national team coach Igor Kokoskov said he plans to talk to Jokic directly.

Jokic, 26, recently was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, and on Tuesday was named to the All-NBA first team along with Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard. It was the third straight All-NBA selection for Jokic, including a second straight first-team nod.

The Nuggets were swept by the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals.

Serbia, which won silver at the 2016 Olympics, plays in the qualifying tournament from June 29-July 4 in Belgrade.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony contributed to this report.

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