If Rudy Gobert is even half as talented at recruiting free agents as he is at playing basketball, Gordon Hayward won’t be leaving the Utah Jazz.
Gobert, one of the NBA’s foremost frontrunners for the Defensive Player of the Year award, plans to pull out all the stops to get his teammate, who owns a player option for next season, to stick with the Jazz. In this case, “all the stops” entails a single question, per HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy:
For example, Gobert mentioned that he will try to persuade Hayward to re-sign with the Jazz when he hits unrestricted free agency this summer. When I asked him what he’ll tell the small forward when that time comes, Gobert doesn’t hesitate.
“I’m just going to ask him, ‘Do you want to win a championship?’” Gobert said. “I feel like with the way we’ve improved the last few years, since Quin [Snyder] got here, I don’t think it’d be a great decision to leave now. At the same time, I know sometimes there are personal decisions and I can’t really control any of that. But I know he likes to win. I know he likes it here in Utah, and his wife and kids like it here too. If he doesn’t want to live here anymore or there’s another city he wants to live in or he feels like he has a better chance to win a championship somewhere else, it’s his decision. But I’m going to remind him that I really want to win a championship and I think we can do it. If he stays, I think we’ll have chances [to win titles]. But it’s still going to be his decision at the end of the day.”
Okay, so there’s more than one question involved.
Still: Gobert’s approach seems fairly straightforward, and there’s a good chance it resonates with Hayward. He’s been with the Jazz his entire career, and now, with the core blossoming into a legitimate Western Conference threat, is when it’s all starting to pay off.
It helps, too, that Utah can offer Hayward a fifth year no other team can. It’ll help even more if he makes an All-NBA team (unlikely). He’d then be eligible to sign a five-year extension worth well in excess of $200 million. He would have to opt into the final year of his deal to get it, but still, the long-term benefits would be obvious.
Are the Jazz willing to pay Hayward that much, designated player extension or not? Will he test the waters and be enticed by the Boston Celtics and the opportunity to play for his college coach, Brad Stevens?
We’ll find out in due time. But Jazz fans can rest easier, even if only slightly so, knowing Gobert is on the case.