Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Sports | By Spencer Underwood

What Joel Embiid's max rookie extension means for the Sixers

What Joel Embiid's max rookie extension means for the Sixers

For all his promise, Embiid was only recently cleared for 5-on-5 activity and hasn't taken the court for Philly's preseason games.

Embiid, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, missed the first two seasons of his NBA career because of a pair of surgeries to fix the navicular bone in his right foot.

The 76ers center and the team have agreed in principle to a five-year, $148 million extension, the maximum based on the designated rookie scale.

Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocks in 25 minutes per game in his 31 starts last season. He finally made his National Basketball Association debut last season but played in just 31 games due to a knee injury.

Despite his head-turning talent, the primary storyline in Embiid's early career has been his injuries. If Embiid's body continues to fall apart and they waive him, are they still on the hook for 75 percent of the contract? A potential lineup consisting of Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and perhaps Dario Saric is something to keep an eye on in the weak Eastern Conference this upcoming season.

Given Embiid's more than troubling injury history, it makes sense that the Sixers put an escape hatch in this contract, but it remains to be seen just how readily available it is.

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The Sixers are hopeful Embiid will be in the lineup on opening night. With incentives, the deal could be worth as much as $178 million.

It's not like there was a long line of suitors for restricted free agent big men this past summer. The contract includes a cap protection for Philly if Embiid misses significant time due to injury. Handing a 5-year, $74 million dollar contract to a guy who couldn't stay on the court wouldn't be great, but there are worse contracts handed down every offseason; it would be less per year than the Lakers paid Timofey Mozgov just last summer.

Embiid, whose only college season at Kansas ended prematurely with back soreness, is the key to that plan.

"Joel Embiid is a transformative young talent that you rarely come across in our game", said Sixers president Bryan Colangelo in the press release announcing the deal.

As a brief reminder of how this works, we here at TSS averaged rankings from 14 different staff members in order to get a composite list of the Philadelphia 76ers' best players, from No. 1 through No. 16.

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