Big-man Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz agreed this morning on a five-year, $205 million extension, making him the richest center in NBA history. I wrote a piece last week that explained how NBA players take advantage of their leverage to receive undeserved paychecks. If paying Rudy Gobert over $40 million per year, who plays for a small market team and is unknown to the average household isn’t a problem–I don’t understand what it.
Rudy Gobert is a good player. But being good shouldn’t warrant generational wealth like we’re seeing. The only players that should be cashing in with half a million dollar salaries per game should be the superstars that fans drive across town to see. “Superstar” is a term thrown around often, but I think it’s more simple to define than the NBA owners are making it look.
If Rudy Gobert walked into a Chili’s in Arizona, no one would recognize him. Outside of assuming he played basketball because he’s seven-foot-one, he would go undetected. How can we defend any player making $205 million that is unrecognizable to the average person and plays for a small market organization in Salt Lake City, Utah?
Rudy Gobert is a two-time Defensive Player of The Year, but being a defensive star can’t be worth this contract, right?
So, what happened?
The Utah Jazz had a good player in Rudy Gobert that they didn’t want to lose after his contract expired next year. That’s understandable, because no team should be willing to let productive players skip town. Our problem here is that if Gobert isn’t offered this reach of a contract, then some other shoddy franchise will give it to him.
I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that how all business should go? Employees work for their boss and if another company is willing to pay you “X”, then that’s what you’re worth? That’s technically true, but it shouldn’t be in professional basketball. Teams like the Orlando Magic or the Knicks have no way of acquiring real superstars, so the price tag for good players will always be the max. Yes, even if you’re good and not great.
If the Utah Jazz were smart, which they’re not, then they would have traded Rudy Gobert while they still had the chance. Now, they’re paying a defensive player that can’t lead a team in scoring over $550K a game until 2026. Absolute dummies.
The NBA will continue paying Kirk Cousins-type players Patrick Mahomes-like money until these owners get smarter. Just because a player can ask for a contract and get it elsewhere, doesn’t mean you should do it yourself. NBA commissioner Adam Silver needs to implement a salary ceiling for players taking advantage of this system before it gets even worse. Mr. Silver, please save the NBA.