SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz have one last thing to check off on their offseason to-do list.
Re-sign Jordan Clarkson? Check.
Bring back Derrick Favors? Check.
Sign Donovan Mitchell to a max extension? Check.
Lock down Rudy Gobert to a new deal? TBD.
The Jazz opened training camp on Tuesday with uncertainty surrounding their franchise center. Gobert is entering the final year of his contract and both sides are still actively working to get a new deal signed. Gobert has expressed time and time again his desire to stay with the team he's played his whole career with and he reiterated that on Tuesday.
"My goal is to win a championship here," Gobert said. "It's been my goal since I got here and I feel the same. I'm focused on the upcoming season and I'm excited about the negotiation talk."
As for those negotiation talks, Gobert said he wasn't too worried about them. He has well-paid people to handle those for him.
"That's why I have an agent — so I can focus on basketball and let him take care of that," he said.
When it comes to basketball, Gobert believes he is setting up for his best season ever. He said he feels like he hasn't yet "scratched my potential." Over the shortened offseason, Gobert has worked on attacking his man on the offensive end and putting more pressure on the rim. He also wants to be a genuine threat from the midrange — a shot he has been working at for years.
"Now it's time to put it to use," he said.
He thinks he is a better passer than he was a season ago and wants to be stronger with the ball in his hands, too. Gobert came into the league as a defensive project and morphed into a player that a team has built a system around by adding to his game each season — so his words might mean more than just typical preseason optimism.
"I feel like every year since I got here I've got better and I feel like this year is gonna be my best year so far," Gobert said. "I've put a lot of work into improving and I think that with me improving and of course all the other guys and Donovan (Mitchell) improving, our team can take the step that we need to take. And that's the goal."
Gobert said he was "100% confident" the Jazz could match up with the elite teams in the NBA. The Jazz already had one of the top offenses in the league (between Dec. 23 and the season shutting down in March, Utah had the top-rated offense) and now with Favors back, Gobert believes the team's defense can return to the disruptive unit the Jazz had built an identity on.
"We felt the drop and we missed his presence," Gobert said of Favors, adding that the team's goal was to have the top-ranked defense this season.
"I believe that we got our destiny in our hands, and we get all the weapons that we need to be the best team that we can be," Gobert said. "And I believe that we have all the weapons that we need to to achieve our goal which is winning a championship."
And that's what he is focusing on right now — and letting others worry about the contract talks.
"We don't comment on past, present, or future negotiations, but we love Rudy," Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said Monday. "We'd like him to be here for the duration of his career."
So too, it seems, does Gobert.