Utah Locks in their Future
Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz agreed to a 5-year, $205 million max contract extension. This makes him the highest paid center in the history of the NBA. This contract extension coincides with that of Donovan Mitchell who signed a 5-year, 195 million max contract last month to remain in Utah.
The two teammates nearly had a major falling out last March when Gobert’s negligence regarding the seriousness of Covid-19 saw he and Mitchell contract the virus right when the NBA shut down. It was speculated the Mitchell was very upset with Gobert’s behavior that led both players getting sick. Many thought that this would be the end of their run as teammates and that the Jazz would have to part ways with one or the other prior to the 2020–21 NBA season.
Nearly 10 months later, Mitchell and Gobert are locked in as teammates for the next 5 seasons barring any trades. While Donovan Mitchell’s contract extension came a month prior to Rudy’s, Gobert is the one that saw the more lucrative deal. The two-time defensive player of the year and three-time all-NBA center for the Utah has been an integral part of their success over the past 4–5 seasons. While they have not made any deep playoff runs, Gobert has proven to be a fantastic rim-protector and defender throughout his NBA career. A well-deserved contract extension but one that may come with more questions than answers.
While Gobert and Mitchell have seemingly resolved their issues from last season, it will be interesting to see the team dynamic now that the Jazz have shown which player they value more in terms of money. I don’t see Donovan Mitchell to be a guy who will take to heart the fact that Gobert will be making more money than he is, but in my eyes, Mitchell is the more valuable asset to the franchise. Yeah, Gobert is an elite defender, shot blocker, and presence in the paint on offense, but Donovan Mitchell makes that team click. He is the playmaker who scores the basketball with some of the best in the NBA and the play maker that can create open shots for his teammates.
The NBA has been moving away from the traditional center and that is what Rudy Gobert is. He is not the modern-day NBA center that can step out and hit the open 3-pointer. He can’t even step out and hit an open 15–18-footer. His value on offense comes on lob passes, offensive rebounds, and put backs. The fact that the Jazz would shell out as much as they did for a center that doesn’t really fit the way the NBA is moving and will continue to move is a bit of a head scratcher to me.
It will be very interesting to see the dynamic of the Utah Jazz throughout the 2020–21 NBA season. I think Donovan and Rudy have put the past behind them (as they should) and that they will be able to get the Jazz back into title contention throughout the next 5 years in which they will be under contract. Jazz fans need to hold out hope that Rudy can work on extending his range on the offensive end to keep pace with the way the NBA is moving in terms of the center and power forward positions. Either way, elite defensive ability is always a positive, I am just not sure that it is worth $205 million. Although, the do say ‘Defense Wins Championships’.
On the court, Utah should be in good shape to stake their claim as a top 5 team out west. Financially, they have handicapped themselves a bit with two major contracts that will strain their ability to land big name free agents to solidify themselves as Championship contenders. If Rudy and/ or Donovan do not perform up to the dollar amount on their contracts, it will be tough to find a trade partner until they only have 1 or 2 years left on their very lucrative contracts. While I don’t anticipate them performing below expectations, it is something to think about when you decide to hand out that kind of money to any player let alone two on the same roster.