The Utah Jazz have now locked up both of their franchise stars for the future, as All-Star big man Rudy Gobert and the team agreed to a five-year, $205 million contract to remain with the team, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon, which the team later confirmed with a press release. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year winner had until Dec. 21 to sign a new extension, or he would've become an unrestricted free agent after this season, where he would've been able to sign a similar deal with the Jazz, or join another team. Staying with the Jazz, though locks Utah's future in for the long-term after the franchise also signed Donovan Mitchell to a rookie max contract extension during the offseason worth five years and $195 million.
"It means that they believe in me," Gobert said via 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 was eligible for a $228 million supermax extension, which is is the same amount that back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo just signed for with the Bucks, but Gobert reportedly cared more about the Jazz remaining financially flexible over signing for the maximum amount he could get.
"For me, my goal is to always win a championship," Gobert said. "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."
Gobert signing this contract shows that the Jazz believe that they can win a championship with the duo of Mitchell and Gobert, and it also shows that the previous tension that existed between the two stars is water under the bridge at this point. When Gobert became the first reported player to test positive for COVID-19, and subsequently shutting down the NBA season back in March, Mitchell and several other players on the team were reportedly furious with Gobert for not taking the virus seriously, especially after other players on his team became infected with the virus as well.
It was reported that Gobert and Mitchell's relationship wasn't on great terms during the hiatus, with Mitchell still holding anger toward Gobert, but the All-Star big man says that he and Mitchell have turned the page on that.
"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 had another career year last season with the Jazz, where he averaged 15.1 points, a career-best 13.5 rebounds and averaged two blocks a game. During his seven-year career he's blossomed into one of the league's most elite big men around, offering stout defense in the paint, and an efficient post scorer on the other end of the floor. He's a three-time All-NBA player, a four-time All-Defensive player and earned his first All-Star honors last season.
With Gobert and Donovan in tow for the foreseeable future, the Jazz will now hope that this duo, with the addition of players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles and Mike Conley can challenge some of the top teams in the Western Conference.