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Rudy Gobert qualified for a supermax, should the Utah Jazz show him the money?

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Rudy Gobert is eligible for the supermax by making the All-NBA team and being the Defensive Player of the Year last year.

Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz - Game Three Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Rudy Gobert is probably the best player Utah has had in some time. While he doesn’t accrue the offensive stats to make him look like a premier superstar, his Ben Wallace-ian impact on the defensive end makes him irreplaceable. Utah tells everyone who will listen that Rudy Gobert’s impact makes him one of the top 10 players in the game. If Rudy Gobert wins Defensive Player of the Year again, he’ll make Utah have to put their money where their mouth is.

With Rudy Gobert making the All-NBA team again, he is now close to being eligible for the NBA’s Supermax contract. If Rudy Gobert makes All-NBA again next season or wins the Defensive Player of the Year award this year (two in a row) then he’d be able to receive a supermax contract. It’s a special honor for players as they can make A LOT of money—and millstone for franchises as they end up cutting those checks.


UPDATE

Rudy Gobert is eligible for the supermax.


Here’s how it works:

Officially known as the “Designated Veteran Player Extension,” this rule allows teams to re-sign qualified players to maximum five-year contracts worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap with eight percent escalation in each subsequent year.

The length of the supermax deal depends on the player’s years of NBA experience and years remaining on his current contract.

A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has two years left on his contract is eligible for a four-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)

A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has one year left on his contract is eligible for a five-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)

A qualified free agent who has completed eight or nine years of service is eligible for a five-year supermax

Rudy Gobert has played six total seasons in the NBA so he would not be eligible for a four year extension this fall. But he would be eligible for a 5 year extension with its first year starting in 2022-2023. While the final numbers can’t be figured out until the salary cap is decided for 2022, we can guess what that figure would be by projecting the salary cap increases from prior years to 2022.

Rudy Gobert’s Supermax Potential

Year Age Contract Amount % of Salary Cap
Year Age Contract Amount % of Salary Cap
2019-2020 27 $24,258,427 22.26%
2021-2022 28 $25,775,281 21.84%
2022-2023 29 $44,710,092 35.00%
2023-2024 30 $48,286,899 34.92%
2024-2025 31 $52,149,851 34.83%
2025-2026 32 $56,321,839 34.75%
2026-2027 33 $60,827,586 34.67%
SUPER MAX TOTAL $262,296,267
TOTAL SALARY $312,329,975
2022-2023 would be the first year of Rudy Gobert’s supermax extension.

Rudy Gobert and Utah can start negotiating this as early as the Fall of 2020 if he wins DPOY. There will inevitably be A LOT of talk as to whether Rudy Gobert will be worth that much as he starts to get older. A lot of it will depend on how much he continues to expand his offensive game and how much his athleticism stays intact as he gets older. It will depend on if Utah can land a big free agent this summer and if that free agent signs for four years.

Should Utah spend that much money on Rudy Gobert? I mean ... it’s a lot of money.

Listen, we’re not the ones writing the checks. Gail Miller and crew get to put their name on the line that is dotted on those nine figure life changers. For what it’s worth, Rudy Gobert is 100% worth that type of money now, but in 2022? A lot can change. All Utah has to do is look at the declines of Roy Hibbert and Ben Wallace to know that a DPOY caliber player can fall off fast. Even if Rudy Gobert doesn’t have a decline like them, there’s John Wall who tore his achilles right before his supermax even kicked in.

The supermax allows players to secure that bag and their future, but the supermax hasn’t helped teams necessarily be better. It eats up a ton of salary cap space, it makes the player near untradeable should things go off the rails, and 1⁄4 of a billion dollars is a lot for a franchise that’s worth a billion dollars. We’re talking about money us mere mortals can’t even fathom.

This type of deal also makes us reexamine the Utah Jazz’s core. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert won’t always be tied at the hip. At some point in the future, three years from now probably, the Utah Jazz will be looking to build around only Donovan Mitchell—or if they get REALLY lucky, D’Angelo Russell, too. How do you do that when Donovan is on a max deal and Rudy Gobert is on a supermax? It gets pretty damn difficult without a quick purge and rush to the lottery, and the Utah organization isn’t a fan of that.

Utah will most likely look at similar players to Rudy Gobert like Ben Wallace, Tyson Chandler, etc. but it’s impossible to do an apples to apples comparison because Rudy Gobert is such a uniquely talented player. He also has a work ethic that doesn’t quit. If there’s anybody who’d work to try to make sure Utah got its money’s worth, it’s Rudy Gobert. But, everyone hits their ceiling eventually.

Nothing gold can stay and nothing athletic can stay remain.

Rudy Gobert is a beast because he’s an athletic marvel. What happens when that motor begins to slow down? What happens when Gobert can fly to the perimeter than fly back to the guard the paint? What happens when Gobert starts to become defensively mortal? When does that happen? Do the Jazz think it’ll happen after 33? If they don’t, do they want to shell out close to $60M for a player who’s playing closer to Javale McGee than prime Rudy Gobert? It’s a difficult question that Utah will have to figure out how to answer.

If Utah is able to land a younger player like Tobias Harris or D’Angelo Russell in free agency then they might not have to answer that question. They can just throw the supermax and let Donovan Mitchell and Tobias Harris/D’Angelo Russell’s ascent into stardom carry the drop off from Rudy Gobert. But if Utah ends up with Mike Conley whose contract ends at the same time Gobert’s extension would begin then Utah may punt this supermax decision down the road until the summer of 2021.

Today is an awesome day for Rudy Gobert. His talent and hard work gets recognized. But now it’s look in the mirror time for Utah’s newly minted General Manager Justin Zanik as he will have to manage Gobert’s expectations of a supermax if he wins Defensive Player of the Year with building the Jazz into a contender over the next half decade.