With the NBA now in its offseason, our team got together to answer some of the biggest questions surrounding the association.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is under contract through the 2020-21 season, after which he will become an unrestricted free agent. However, he is eligible to sign a “designated veteran player extension” (aka supermax) this offseason. So, we asked our team if they would give the Stifle Tower just a hair under $250 million over a half-decade?
Matthew Wellington: Despite the obvious friction caused between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell after the coronavirus outbreak in Utah, the Jazz front office has not wavered from their desire to build a contending team around their two superstars. However, the NBA’s supermax is not a contract to be handed out without serious considerations first: considerations, such as, how this will hamstring the franchise’s future flexibility in the free agency market, for example.
To date, only John Wall, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook have been handed the league’s most lucrative contract and all of those, just in case you haven’t noticed, happen to be high-scoring guards. All evidence suggests NBA franchise’s have traditionally been unwilling to shell out such expenses for players who, despite their obvious skill sets, lack the most fundamental requirement of the game – an ability to score the ball.
Gobert, however, is different to the aforementioned players and in Utah, superstars don’t come along every decade, let alone a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and an All-NBA talent. The evidence to support a supermax is there, and if you look at the stats, for as long as Gobert has been a starter for the Jazz, they’ve had a stalwart defense. In fact, it’s been the top defense in the NBA over the past five seasons. They’ve also continually improved and somehow managed to find a way to compete in an increasingly positionless NBA.
Perhaps that’s where saying yes to Gobert’s supermax hits a wall? After all, we’ve just seen the Lakers win the NBA Finals with a big man who can just as easily stretch the floor as he can anchor the paint. Miami’s Bam Adebayo also displayed considerable flexibility on both ends of the court, the sort we haven’t quite seen from Gobert. Who without a shadow of doubt, can’t stretch the floor like Anthony Davis, or any of the ‘unicorns’ for that matter. Gobert will also be 29 heading into the 2021-22 season, that makes him 34 by the time the supermax deal ends. That’s a lot of money to be paying a player hurtling towards the end of their career.
But with the Lakers, Heat and Denver Nuggets proving the big man isn’t dead, if the Jazz let him walk, what are the chances they fill that void? Rather slim, I would imagine. In which case, you’d be crazy to let Gobert walk. It’s a tough decision, I wouldn’t want to be making it. But I will say this, paying a non-shooter $50 million a season, doesn’t seem smart, even if he does stop everybody else’s shots at the rim.
Sid Mohapatra: No way. I just can’t see the Jazz taking the max extension with Rudy Gobert, a defensive juggernaut with virtually no shot outside of six feet. With the league becoming increasingly positionless, there is a strong likelihood that eventually Gobert could see more time on the pine, while the team goes ‘small’ for large stretches against elite teams who have shown versatility. A max extension for a predominantly one-way player just doesn’t seem likely.
Ger Deegan: Would I? Absolutely not. If you’re the Jazz hierarchy though you really do have to take it under serious consideration – such is the lack of free agent pull that they have in a city like Utah. It’s not that often a two time defensive player of the year comes around and in a small market franchise that may just be enough for the to take the plunge on Gobert.
It is a difficult position to be in for Utah but my gut feeling says they won’t commit this much money to a non-shooter.
Harry Harrison: No-one is going to pay Rudy Gobert $50 million a year for the next five years. Granted, he’s been an anchor for the Jazz but not even Justin Zanick will cough up that much, for that long. The game changes too fast.
The team has done remarkably well so-far, considering how offensively limited Gobert is, but it’s only a matter of time before Utah either looks to trade him away or the franchise starts to fall down the Western Conference standings. In three years, Gobert will no longer be worth $50 million a year; it may even come earlier than that. Sorry Rudy.
Chinedu Udezue: I personally wouldn’t. He’s rarely injured, a defensive stalwart and a key part of what the Jazz do… but for that amount of money, I need more. He’s never really shown any consistent offense beyond 5 feet of the basket and catching lobs, plus he gets exposed in certain match-ups. For that money, I would need somebody that brings more to the table. And if you believe certain whispers, he’s probably not the easiest person in the locker room and chaffs at not getting personal recognition. Having said that, Utah is hardly a free agent destination, so Jazz management may feel that its best to lock up a good player that they already have, which would be understandable. But I couldn’t do it.
Tom Hall: Shut your face. Not only will they refuse to give him the supermax, I think they wrap him up, put a stamp on him and ship him off to the best suitor. He caused a stir in the locker room with his corona blunders and shows too many limitations in the playoffs (which seems crazy to say about a two-time defensive player of the year), so not only do I see him not getting the big payday, but I think it’s time for Utah to move on.