All-NBA big man Rudy Gobert will sign a five-year, $205 million contract extension with the Utah Jazz, he told ESPN after agreeing to the largest deal for a center in league history.
“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.”
Gobert, 28, was eligible for a supermax extension worth $228 million — identical to the deal Giannis Antetokounmpo just signed with the Milwaukee Bucks — because he is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-NBA selection. Gobert said he did not request the full supermax because he wanted the Jazz to have flexibility to continue building around co-star Donovan Mitchell and him.
“For me, my goal is to always win a championship,” said Gobert, who has a player option for the fifth season of the deal. “When we spoke with my agent before the negotiations started, I decided that I didn’t want to ask for the supermax. We didn’t want to start the negotiations by asking for the supermax. For me, it was important to show to the organization and show to the team that it wasn’t about money. It was about continuing to build what we’ve been building and also give this team and give myself the stability and the peace of mind to not have to deal with the negotiations later.
“I want to win, and I feel like leaving this money on the table for the team just to be able to have better talent around me and Donovan was really important. I want to win, and I believe in this group and I believe in this organization, and I was willing to leave that money on the table for them.”
Gobert’s contract is the third-biggest deal in NBA history, behind Antetokounmpo’s freshly signed deal and a five-year, $206.8 million deal that Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017.
The Jazz locked up both of their All-Star franchise cornerstones to long-term extensions this offseason. Shooting guard Mitchell, 24, signed a five-year maximum extension of his rookie contract worth a guaranteed $163 million, with a 30% escalator clause that would increase the overall value of the deal to $195 million if he is selected to an All-NBA team this season.
There was well-documented tension between Gobert and Mitchell that surfaced during the NBA’s hiatus earlier this year, but both players expressed confidence that they could continue to form a productive professional partnership after discussing their issues before the league’s restart. That belief was reaffirmed by their chemistry in the bubble.
“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.”
Gobert has developed into one of the NBA’s most dominant big men during his seven seasons in Utah, which traded for the 27th overall pick in the 2013 draft to select the 7-foot-1 Frenchman and assigned him to what was then called the D League for most of his rookie season.
“Watching Rudy evolve as a player on the court through his competitiveness, relentless work ethic and his passion and dedication to improve has been tremendous,” Snyder wrote in a text message to ESPN. “He is an elite player and impacts our team in so many ways with his unique skill set, let alone his sheer will to win. He also has also has great belief in his teammates and what they accomplish. I am even more proud of how Rudy has grown personally and the impact he has had in our community and across the globe. His commitment to youth and to others has been so rewarding to see, and I know he will continue to make his mark in meaningful ways.”
Gobert, who is entering the final season of a four-year, $102 million contract, has been an All-NBA selection in three of the past four seasons and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2017-18 and 2018-19. He has averaged 14.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game during the Jazz’s streak of four consecutive seasons with postseason berths, having been a pillar of the franchise’s transformation from a 25-win team his rookie year to a perennial playoff squad.
“Utah is home for me,” said Gobert, who launched his Rudy’s Kids Foundation in 2017 to assist underprivileged children in Salt Lake City, every other NBA city and his hometown of Saint-Quentin, France. “I see myself as a loyal person. 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.”
ESPN’s Bobby Marks contributed to this report.