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Utah Jazz: ‘Everybody knows I want to be here,” Rudy Gobert says of possible contract extension (with video)

First Published      Last Updated Sep 26 2016 08:56 pm

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In focus » The French center could get a new contract by the end of October or become a restricted free agent at the season’s end.

One way or another, one day or another, Rudy Gobert's big payday is coming.

The Utah Jazz's shot-blocker extraordinaire is set to make $2.1 million, a bargain by NBA standards, during the final year of his rookie contract. And while Gobert is eligible to sign an extension this fall, the man they call the Stifle Tower isn't worried about rushing to get his new deal done.

"Most important is the season," Gobert said Monday, as Jazz players gathered for the start of training camp activities. "I'm working for the season."

Jazz officials have stayed quiet on talks between the two sides, with about five weeks until the Oct. 31 deadline to finalize a deal. If no agreement can be reached by then, Gobert would become a restricted free agent in July and thus eligible to sign an offer sheet with another team.




The Jazz, of course, would then have the chance to match to keep Gobert in Salt Lake, which appears to be the Frenchman's preference.

"Everybody knows I want to be here," he said.

Coming off a season in which he averaged 9.1 points, 11 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, Gobert could be setting himself up for a max offer worth more than $25 million a season — especially if he takes the step forward he and Jazz officials hope to see this season.

Gobert missed 21 games last season with a knee injury that may have impacted his performance down the stretch. Now the 24-year-old Frenchman said he is back to full strength.

"After the Olympics, I tried to get back here pretty early to be able to get ready," he said. "I feel great. I'm ready."

Gobert believes the strength he added to his frame will make him a greater threat on the offensive glass.

"Basketball is a pretty simple game … especially for me at seven feet," he said. "Just be able to finish pretty much anywhere around the rim."

And the center believes his steady work on his jump shot will begin to show dividends soon.

"I've got some guys to pass me the ball," he said, with a glance at his fellow countryman and new teammate, Boris Diaw, whom the Jazz acquired in an offseason trade.

"When it happened, I was pretty excited," Gobert said of the acquisition. "I've been waiting for a French teammate for a few years. So [I'm] just happy. Especially Boris. He's a great guy on the court, off the court. If we needed one guy, I would have picked him and we got him."

All that and hopes of a playoff appearance-and perhaps more-appear to be enough to occupy Gobert for now.

"Whether I sign this year or next, I'm focused on the season," he said. "It's not going to change anything."

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk

 

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