After Rudy Gobert won his second Defensive Player of the Year award on Monday night — and after about an hour of hoisting two DPOY trophies for photographers from just about every possible NBA outlet — Gobert caught up with Tribune Jazz beat reporter Andy Larsen outside the Barker Hangar studio in Santa Monica, California. Their conversation follows:
First of all, congratulations on the award. I saw Quin [Snyder] was there supporting you tonight, and I wanted to ask how you felt his system and his coaching contributed to your work.
There’s one guy who ... obviously a lot of people that are responsible for that, but Quin is definitely up there. What he brought to the team, the organization, his drive, his competitiveness. I think he just pushed me, pushed us to you know to be the team that we are today and the team that we want to be tomorrow. He’s just a guy that I would love to go to war for. Hopefully we can you know win a championship in the next few years and it will be the icing on the cake.
You’ve now been recognized for this twice, but you haven’t gotten the All-Star recognition yet. Does this help with that? Or is it two separate things?
It’s two separate things. I’ll take the Defensive Player of the Year any day over an All-Star selection. There’s only one of these in the whole league every year. I always say, there’s some negative things, there’s some positive things, it’s all part of the journey. It’s part of a career, it’s part of life. The most important thing is how you react to that, and my teammates, my coaches, my organization know that winning would be the most important thing to me.
Winning this two years in a row means that you’re eligible for that supermax extension down the road. Is that something that you want, something that you’re looking forward to, or something you’re not thinking about right now?
Right now I’m thinking about winning. Money is not really the thing I’m focused on. I signed my contract two or three years ago and I still have two years left on my contract. Right now, it’s all about winning and still getting better.
The Mike Conley trade just happened last week, or I guess officially will happen two weeks from now. What are your initial impressions on what Mike will bring?
First of all, he’s a great guy. I think that’s something I look at, something I really care about. I think he’s a great guy. He just got Teammate of the Year; I don’t think it’s any fluke. Just competing against him for the last five or six years, he’s a tremendous player. A very good competitor on both ends. You know he’s going to be fun to be around, and someone who I think that can help us take the next step.
How do you think you two will play together on the floor?
I think it’s going to be great. He’s a smart player, I think I’m a really smart player. I love to make my teammates happy, and he’s also a very unselfish guy. It’s going to be about figuring out how to play with one another and go at it.
From a free agency point of view, what’s the next step? What do you need to add to become contenders with this team?
I think the front office will answer that question. I think it’s all about, I would say trying to find the pieces who fit us well and want to help us go where we want to go, which is winning a championship in the very near future. We’ll just keep getting better to try to make the right decisions.
Are you excited to get playing?
I’m excited, I’m very excited. I’m always excited, I’m not going to lie. As a competitor, it’s always exciting. But this year it’s going to be a little different. I have a feeling that it might be the year for us.
Different in what way?
Every year is different, but I feel like this year we’ve reached the maturity level that I feel like it might be the time. I say that every year, but this year, I really feel like we’re going to come in and achieve big things.