Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert may not be household names, but they’re both about to get paid a ridiculous amount of money. The two centers are each finalizing four-year contract extensions worth roughly $100 million.
Gobert’s deal is worth a reported $102 million. The 24-year-old Frenchman has developed into one of the NBA’s best defensive centers and his offensive game has improved in each of his three seasons. Last year Gobert averaged 9.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.2 blocks in 31.7 minutes per game. He also shot 55.9 percent from the field. In a league where rim protectors are at a premium, this is likely a fair deal for both sides. Gobert has a lot of improving to do, but he’s on the right track.
Adams burst onto the scene during Oklahoma City’s playoff run last season and became an anchor for the Thunder in the middle. His growth was such that it made Serge Ibaka expendable. The 23-year-old Pitt product averaged 8.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 25.2 minutes per game as a reserve. This year he’s already up to 35.0 minutes per game, with 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds through three games.
Neither Gobert nor Adams are ever going to be a headline-grabber on their respective teams, but their deals prove a few things. First, rim protection is not a lost art. Despite the NBA’s obsession with small-ball and playing fast, teams need low-post anchors to succeed. And second, owners across the league are clearly worried the impending new CBA will send salaries soaring. Both the Jazz and Thunder locked up their young centers on big deals rather than risk having to pay far more when the current CBA expires this summer.