The NBA’s wave of enormous contract extensions continues with the 2020-21 season set to begin. Rudy Gobert is the latest player to get a huge payday, agreeing to a five-year, $205 million deal with the Utah Jazz. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Tim McMahon.
While Gobert’s new deal isn’t a “supermax” extension (like the five-year, $228 million agreement Giannis Antetokounmpo signed earlier in the week), he’s being paid like a superstar. The contract is the largest for a center in NBA history. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, it’s the third-largest deal the league has ever seen, behind Antetokounmpo’s new contract and the extension Russell Westbrook signed in 2017.
Gobert was set to become a free agent after the 2020-21 season, finishing out the four-year, $102 million extension he signed in 2016. During that span, he’s won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award twice, earned All-Defensive First Team four times, led the league in blocks once, and been named to an All-Star team.
Five biggest contracts in NBA history
1.Giannis Antetokounmpo- $228M
3.Rudy Gobert- $205M
4.Steph Curry- $201M
5.Anthony Davis- $190M
5.Klay Thompson- $190M
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) December 20, 2020
“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,” said Gobert. “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.”
Mitchell agreed to a five-year extension with the Jazz in November that could be worth up to $195 million. (He’s guaranteed $163 million with the contract.)
After Gobert contracted COVID-19 in March — a development that led to the NBA postponing its season — Mitchell also caught the virus. That fueled tensions between the Jazz’s two stars over Gobert not taking COVID precautions seriously and putting his teammates in danger.
Dear Utah… pic.twitter.com/S806F4oZ6d
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) December 20, 2020
Whether or not Mitchell and Gobert could continue to play together became a concern. But the two apparently settled their differences while playing in the NBA’s Orlando bubble to finish out the regular season and playoffs. The Jazz lost a thrilling first-round series to the Denver Nuggets in seven games, with Mitchell and Jamal Murray putting up huge scoring performances.
Some might question giving such big money to a player not known for his scoring. But Gobert is an impact player on defense and one of the league’s best centers in an era when that position is no longer a dominant factor.
The Jazz have been a playoff team during the past four seasons as Gobert developed into a major contributor, averaging 14.1 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. With Mitchell joining him, Utah is emerging as a Western Conference contender — especially as the Rockets and Thunder appear to be on the decline.
Gobert’s $205 million extension and $41.5 million average annual salary ranks him first among current NBA centers. Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid of the 76ers, the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, and Cleveland’s Andre Drummond make up the remaining top five at that position.