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NBA: Rudy Gobert leaves Utah for Minnesota

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French pivot Rudy Gobert, considered at 30 as one of the best defenders in the NBA, moves from the Utah Jazz to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he hopes to win his first league title.

Gobert finished top rebounder last regular season.

USA TODAY Sports

At 30, Rudy Gobert will discover only his third team: after Cholet (2010/13) and Utah (2013/22), the ambitious French pivot will now defend the colors of Minnesota Timberwolves with the aim of winning the title of NBA champion who makes him dream.

Revealed Friday by ESPN star journalist Adrian Wojnarowski, always very well informed, the departure of Gobert from Utah, his team since his NBA debut in 2013, was confirmed on Saturday on social networks by the principal concerned.

“Utah!!!! I was just a kid from France when I arrived here nine years ago, but I felt welcomed and supported from day one,” wrote the man who is considered one of the best defenders in the NBA.

“I grew as a man and as a player in front of your eyes and I thank you for every moment I have experienced. Utah and its people will always have a special place in my heart, thank you, the journey continues,” added Gobert, one of the highest paid French athletes on the planet.

If the native of Saint-Quentin does not mention his next destination, it is known: it is the Minnesota Timberwolves who paid the price to recruit the triple best NBA defender.

$205 million over 5 years

To receive Gobert, Minnesota has put in the balance no less than five players, including the experienced Patrick Beverley and especially four first-round draft picks in the years to come (2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029). The draft makes it possible to recruit the best young players from the American university system or from abroad.

Gobert (2.16 m), best rebounder of the regular season (14.7 per game) should form the Timberwolves a formidable pair in the racket alongside another very high level interior, Karl-Anthony Towns.

With Towns signing a new four-year contract worth 224 million euros on Friday with Minnesota, guard Anthony Edwards, first choice of the 2020 draft and Gobert therefore, the Timberwolves can do some damage in the conference. West from next season which will begin on October 18.

In Minnesota, Rudy Gobert will form a shock duo with Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns (left).

In Minnesota, Rudy Gobert will form a shock duo with Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns (left).

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Without Gobert, the franchise created in 1989 and never yet rewarded with the NBA title, was eliminated in the first round of the 2022 play-offs by Memphis. Exactly the same result as Utah, eliminated by Dallas.

Since Gobert’s arrival, the Salt Lake City franchise had certainly become a stronghold of the Western Conference, but it is still chasing the NBA title and regularly comes up against its glass ceiling, the conference semi-finals as in 2017, 2018 and 2021.

After this new failure in the spring, the leaders realized that their team was at the end of the cycle and dismissed Quin Snyder, their coach since 2014 with whom Gobert was close, before therefore separating from “Gobzilla”.

Stormy relationships

A decision that seemed inevitable as relations on and off the field with the other star of the team Donovan Mitchell had become stormy since an event that occurred in March 2020.

Gobert then became the first NBA player to have tested positive for Covid-19, just after voluntarily touching the microphones of a press room. His positive test had precipitated the suspension of the NBA season and put a damper on his relations with Donovan Mitchell, who was quickly infected.

Minnesota to the cote chez les bookmakers

As he enters the second year of his mega-contract signed in December 2020 ($205 million over 5 years) which guarantees him an annual salary of more than $38 million in his new jersey, Gobert is still chasing his first title. NBA champion and will try to forget the disappointments of Utah in the polar cold of Minnesota.

His arrival has already caused Las Vegas bookmakers to react: his new team’s odds for the 2023 title have fallen from 80 to 1 to 50 to 1, while that of Utah has fallen from 50 to 1 to 100 to 1. ..

(AFP/Sport Center)

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