Utah center Rudy Gobert intends to play for France in the 2016 Olympics this summer, and while he prepares for the games in Rio, he and the Jazz won’t attempt to work out a contract extension. League sources tell Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com (Twitter link) that the Jazz and Gobert’s camp have agreed to postpone extension negotiations until after the Olympics.
Gobert, who is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract, became extension-eligible for the first time this month. He and the Jazz have until October 31 to attempt to hammer out a new deal — if the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the 24-year-old will become eligible for restricted free agency in the summer of 2017. However, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune tweets that he thinks Gobert and the Jazz are on the same page and that an extension should get done “without much issue.”
The 27th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Gobert has developed into one of the league’s best young rim protectors, averaging 2.2 blocks and 11.0 rebounds per game during the 2015/16 season. He also chipped in on the offensive end, recording 9.1 PPG and a .559 FG%.
If the Jazz aim to be players in free agency next summer, it could make some sense to postpone an extension for Gobert until 2017 like the Wizards and Pistons did this past year with Bradley Beal and Andre Drummond, respectively. Gobert’s cap hold next summer would only be about $5.3MM, meaning Utah could keep that number on the books at the start of free agency to create some cap room before eventually going over the cap to lock up the standout center.
Of course, Washington and Detroit eventually locked up their respective restricted free agents to maximum-salary contracts, and the Jazz will almost certainly have to do the same with Gobert if they wait until the summer, since another team would be willing to make such an offer if Utah doesn’t. Extending Gobert this fall could be Utah’s only chance to get him at a price below the max, though even a modest “hometown” discount may not be in the cards, given the league-wide spending spree we witnessed earlier this month.