SALT LAKE CITY — Rudy Gobert's height and wingspan have always been gargantuan. Now he's got a salary to match.
The Utah Jazz have agreed to a four-year, $102 million dollar extension to the French center's contract, ensuring that Gobert is under Jazz control through the 2020-21 season. The extension will kick in beginning in 2017-18. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the deal.
Gobert's deal, as the 27th selection in the 2013 NBA draft, had been one of the best values in the league, as he is making just over $2 million this season. Now, Gobert will be paid like a top NBA center.
Gobert's agreed-to salary is about $8 million short of the four-year, $110 million max deal he could have received as a restricted free agent in the summer of 2017. Gobert's deal has no options, it's a straight four-year deal. In other words, he won't be able to opt out after three seasons like teammate Gordon Hayward.
Gobert has emerged as the league's best rim protector since the 2014-15 season, especially after the trade of Enes Kanter to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Gobert allowed the lowest field goal percentage at the rim while he was in the game of any center in the NBA, according to Nylon Calculus' rim protection stats.
"A few of us around the league are fortunate to have rim protection. There's just a scarcity of tall players with great length and mobility that have a defensive mindset," Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey said. "Coaches always like players that can contribute to the bottom line without needing the ball."
He also finished as the NBA's seventh-leading rebounder last season ("He gets a rebound every 2.8 minutes, which is elite," says Lindsey). On the other hand, Gobert's offensive game mostly consists of dunks and putbacks around the rim, though it is developing at the free-throw line at further outside.
Lindsey, though, says that the team doesn't want Gobert to change who he is as a player, but rather develop by accentuating his strengths. "I think as he gets stronger, he can do all of those areas of shotblocking, rebounding, and finishing better," Lindsey said.
"I think it's safe to say that Gordon and Derrick are going to be the primary players offensively, with Rodney Hood and a few others sprinkled in periodically. But with Rudy, the development will allow him to do his role better."
That development includes improving Rudy's skills, but in some subtle ways.
"When we say skill, it could be better footwork that allows him to catch the ball better, gather quicker, go up stronger. Pivoting skills: Quin inverts our offense so the bigs handle it a lot," Lindsey said. "Rudy has always been a very willing passer, I think now that we're 3 years in to his development he's more of an able passer. When we got him originally as well, his free throw shooting motion was quite elongated. We've shortened that up a bit."
But mostly, the Jazz are happy Gobert will be in Utah for a long time.
"Rudy, not only in this deal but in previous actions, has committed to Salt Lake as his home, and has committed to Salt Lake relative to his future development," Lindsey said. "And I think because of that the Miller family felt really good about an early commitment."
This story will be updated as more information is released.
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