Rudy Gobert has signed long-term with the Utah Jazz, telling ESPN on Sunday that he’d signed a max five-year extension worth $205 million, the biggest contract a center has signed in NBA history.
Thanks to his three All-Star selections and pair of NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards (2018-2019), Gobert was actually eligible for the full $228 million supermax extension, which would’ve been identical to the one reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo recently signed.
While Gobert said he did not request the supermax so that Utah could have more flexibility in building around him and guard Donovan Mitchell, it’s hard to believe that the Jazz would have given the 28-year-old a deal that would pay him the same as the back-to-back reigning MVP.
“It means that they believe in me. They believe in what we’ve been building over the years with this whole organization, with Coach [Quin Snyder] and all the guys,” Gobert said. “For me, it’s an incredible blessing. It’s a very motivating feeling to know that we all share the same vision and we all share this goal for this state and for this franchise.”
Though he did not end up signing for the supermax extension, the French big man’s $205-million deal is still the third biggest in NBA history in terms of total salary, trailing only Antetokounmpo’s recently inked deal and the $206.8 million contract that Russell Westbrook signed with the OKC Thunder back in 2017.
The Gobert deal was one of Utah’s biggest priorities for the offseason, but it surely wasn’t their tip-top priority—that would be their signing of superstar guard Donovan Mitchell. They got that done last month, inking the Louisville product to a five-year max extension of his rookie deal worth $163 million, including a 30% escalator clause that would bump the total salary to $195 million if Mitchell makes an All-NBA team during the 2020-2021 season.
Despite a lot of speculation that Mitchell didn’t get along with the Stifle Tower following the latter’s highly publicized COVID-related drama, the two young stars are now locked in as the two essential building blocks for a Jazz team that is looking at a very bright future.
“After all the things that happened within our team and all that, I really wanted to go back in the bubble and see how things are going,” Gobert said. “After the bubble, I really felt like I could win a championship with Donovan. I think we’ve both grown a lot, and we’re going to keep growing. I’m really excited that we’re going to be able to continue this journey together.”
Drafted 27th by the Jazz out of the top French league, Pro A, in the 2013 NBA Draft, Gobert has enjoyed a ton of success through his seven-year NBA career, though most of that has come on the defensive end. Throughout his career he has been named to three All-NBA teams and the last four straight NBA All-Defensive First Teams. Not to mention he led the league in blocks in 2017 and was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in both 2018 and 2019.
Despite all of those honors, Gobert was not named an All-Star until 2020. During that COVID-shortened season, the Frenchman put up 15.1 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game on 64 percent shooting from the field and 63 percent shooting from the charity stripe.
With a new owner as well as long term deals for an impressive nucleus that includes Mitchell, Gobert, potent scoring guard Jordan Clarkson, and head coach Snyder, the Jazz are definitely headed down a path to success. Despite a lot of optimism, they are still a piece or two away from real contention in the Western Conference, however, as evidenced by the +3,300 odds Betway is giving them to win the championship this season.
Nonetheless, the Stifle Tower believes the Jazz can build a winner around him and Mitchell, not to mention he’s made himself quite a home in Utah, where he started Rudy’s Kids Foundation in 2017, a non-profit that helps provide support to underprivileged kids in Salt Lake City as well as each NBA city and his hometown of Saint-Quentin, France.
“Utah is home for me, I see myself as a loyal person,” Gobert said. “I’ve had so many people tell me, ‘Why don’t you go to a bigger market?’ I always tell people that winning a championship in Utah and creating our legacy in Utah would mean so much more.
“I think Donovan is thinking the same way, Coach Q is thinking the same way, [new Jazz owner] Ryan Smith is thinking the same way. We really want to build something and create something and create our way. We want to make something that has never happened before, and for me, that’s also the exciting part about it. I believe that we’re going to win a championship in Utah.”
It’s too early to tell whether the franchise’s confidence in Gobert is warranted (or vice versa) but from our perspective the Jazz are a well-run organization heading for contention.