NBA star Rudy Gobert inks richest contract for a centre in league history
NBA star Rudy Gobert inks richest contract for a centre in league history

Star inks record-breaking $269m contract

The Utah Jazz locked down All-NBA big man Rudy Gobert to a five-year, $A269 million contract, the largest deal for a centre in league history, ESPN reported.

Gobert's deal, which includes a player option for the fifth season, is also the third-largest ever behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Russell Westbrook.

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The 28-year-old All-Star was eligible for a supermax extension of $A299 million but he said he left money on the table to ensure the Jazz could have the flexibility to continue building around him and co-star Donovan Mitchell.

"For me, my goal is to always win a championship," Gobert told ESPN. "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 organisation 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.

"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. I want to win, and I believe in this group and I believe in this organisation, and I was willing to leave that money on the table for them."

Utah signed Mitchell to a long-term extension this off-season, locking down the 24-year-old to the five-year maximum extension of his rookie contract worth a guaranteed $A214 million. Mitchell's deal also includes a 30 per cent escalator clause that would increase the overall value of the deal to $A256 million if he is selected to an All-NBA team this upcoming season.

Social media was left split after news of Gobert's monster contract was announced. Some fans couldn't believe the money the Jazz had parted with for him, while others believe it's the right move.

The Jazz have now secured its two biggest stars through at least the 2024-25 season, but the organisation's success will likely be contingent on their ability to get along.

Gobert and Mitchell went through a public rift in March after the former became the first known NBA player to test positive for COVID-19, causing the NBA's season to go on pause. It was widely reported that Gobert was extremely careless in the locker room, which likely led to Mitchell's positive test the following day.

Gobert was widely slammed for touching every voice recorder and microphone on the table in front of him at a press conference in March, making light of the global pandemic just two days before contracting the virus himself.

Mitchell was reported to be extremely frustrated with Gobert, which led to the two not speaking for a month. However, Mitchell later told reporters that he and Gobert had moved on and were ready to focus on basketball.

But ESPN reported in July that the tensions between the two stars originated long before the pandemic.

Gobert reportedly grew frustrated with Mitchell not passing the ball enough, according to the report. Gobert admitted in July that he can be "annoying," but he feels he and Mitchell can succeed together.

"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 told ESPN. "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 has been an All-NBA selection in three of the past four seasons, while earning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2017-18 and 2018-19. He has played a major part in taking the 25-win Jazz team he joined his rookie season in 2013-14 to a recent streak of four consecutive playoff berths.

This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.

Originally published as Star inks record-breaking $269m contract

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