The Sixers are in a unique basketball situation with big man Joel Embiid.
And for more than just the obvious.
Yes, when he is healthy he is among one of the best shows in sports, an NBA unicorn making game-changing plays on both sides of the ball while combining the offensive skills of a stretch-five with a low-post artist. In 2016-17 he averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in just over 25 minutes per game. His potential to be a mammoth force in the NBA is quite high — especially when he is paired on the floor with Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.
But he also sat out two entire seasons with foot surgery and recoveries after being drafted third overall in 2014. And he had a knee surgery forcing him to miss the second half of last season. And his rookie contract is up at the end of next season.
The Sixers have until the end of October to decide whether or not to extend Embiid’s contract, or they can negotiate with him when he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. As a restricted free agent, Philly would have the ability to match any offer from another team and would be able to extend him to a long-term deal — but it could potentially cost them max-deal money (unless they designate him as their designated player and pay him max-deal money as part of his extension).
If Philly extends Embiid this summer, it will cost them likely between $113 million and $146 million, which is a huge risk to commit that kind of money to a guy who has played less than three dozen games over three seasons.
Regardless of when Embiid gets paid, if healthy he will get a monster deal. The Sixers are committed to keeping him in South Philly.
“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Sixers owner Josh Harris told Tom Moore of The Intelligencer. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”
Just how confident in Embiid’s health the Sixers are will determine when and for how much — but there’s no way Embiid will be slipping away anytime soon.