By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) October 10, 2017
As the old saying goes, if you Trust the Process, the Process will reward you with a $148 million extension. At least that’s the case for Sixers center Joel Embiid, who cashed in on his immense potential in a big way Monday, agreeing to terms on a 5-year, max extension to remain in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia center Joel Embiid has agreed to a five-year, $148 million designated rookie scale max extension, league sources told ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 9, 2017
The extension kicks in beginning in the 2018-19 season, and also includes the “super max” criteria, where the contract could go as high as $178 million if Embiid makes an All-NBA team or wins MVP or Defensive Player of the Year this season. Given what we saw last season, Embiid making an All-NBA team isn’t out of the question if he’s able to play somewhere around 65-70 games this year.
No one denies Embiid is one of the most talented players in the league, but health is the $148 million question. The big man has played only a total of 31 games in his first three NBA seasons and was only recently cleared for full court 5-on-5 in practice following meniscus surgery in the spring. The quickest way to submarine a promising, young team is have 25% of your salary cap earmarked for a guy unable to take the court.
However, the Sixers do appear to have added some protection for themselves in the deal, full details of which are yet to come out. Wojnarowski stated “the deal will include some salary-cap protection for the 76ers should Embiid suffer injury that causes him to miss significant playing time” and Zach Lowe relayed that the extension is “perhaps the most complex in NBA history”.
Yahoo’s Shams Charania tweeted that the deal was only 50% guaranteed money, before deleting the tweet. The CBA allows you to work in non-guarantees on designated player extensions related to pre-existing conditions, so the Sixers might be protected if Embiid suffers a recurrence of his back, foot, or knee injuries. If the Sixers found a way to lock Embiid up long term while insulating themselves from the ever-present injury risk, this deal is a home run.
Ultimately, the Sixers were pot committed with Embiid. He’s the surest path to becoming a true contender if he can stay on the court, and some team was sure to sign him to a max deal if he went into restricted free agency next summer. Getting ahead of the situation now allows the team to maintain a sense of goodwill with Embiid’s camp, tack on a 5th year to the deal, and include the injury provisions we’re yet to see detailed.
If Embiid stays reasonably healthy, this deal will be a no-brainer as the Sixers fight for Eastern Conference supremacy in the coming years. If he continues to struggle to stay on the court, the team may have found itself an out clause; we’ll see. Until then, Tru$t the Proce$$.