At a time when the market is dry for centers around the NBA, two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert has just signed the third-largest contract in NBA history.
Gobert was eligible for the same supermax contract Giannis Antetokounmpo just signed but took a little less, telling ESPN’s Tim MacMahon he agreed to a five-year, $205 million contract to remain in Utah. The Jazz have since confirmed the signing.
“It means that they believe in me,” Gobert told ESPN. “They believe in what we’ve been building over the years with this whole organization, with coach [Quin Snyder] and all the guys. 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.”
Dear Utah… pic.twitter.com/S806F4oZ6d
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) December 20, 2020
“Rudy’s commitment, competitiveness and dedication to winning is why he is one of the elite players in the NBA,” Jazz Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey said in a statement. “The impact he’s had on our team, the state of Utah and so many other communities around the world is immeasurable. We’re ecstatic that Rudy will continue to be an integral part of our franchise as we work towards our goals.”
Gobert and the Jazz had a bit of a public negotiation about the final salary numbers, but they ended up compromising between the two numbers. Gobert did not get the full 35% of the salary cap he was eligible for, but only Antetokounmpo and Russell Westbrook have ever signed contracts for more money. It’s the largest contract any center has ever signed.
Gobert is the best rim protecting defensive center in the league, plus he has great hands and can score on the roll to the rim or in the post, averaging 15.1 points and 13.5 rebounds a game. Utah has built their defense — and their defensive identity — around Gobert and his skills. Gobert is a three-time All-NBA player who made his first All-Star team this past season.
This deal locks Gobert and Donovan Mitchell — who signed a max extension to his rookie contract just last month — in as the core of the Jazz for the next five years. While the two have had their differences — which came to a head around the coronavirus shut down — the two have said they worked out their differences and are on the same page.
New Jazz owner Ryan Smith has said he’s willing to spend to win in Utah, this is a sign of just that. The Jazz, with Gobert and Mitchell as the stars and role players such as Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Derrick Favors, and Joe Ingles around them, are looking to make a deep playoff run in the West this season. With those two massive contracts on the books, Utah’s front office, led by Lindsey, will need to be creative in bringing in and keeping talent around those stars without breaking the bank, but so far they have done just that.
And now the Jazz have their core locked up.