Joel Embiid was the Philadephia 76ers’ No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, Embiid missed the first two seasons of his career due to various injuries. Embiid finally made his debut during the 2016-17 campaign. But he suited up just 31 games. He compiled averages of 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per outing.
While 31 games is a small sample size, it didn’t stop the Philadelphia 76ers from signing him to a five-year, $148 million extension. Yes, that is a lot of money to spend on an injury-prone player. However, if Joel Embiid missed 25 games related to the previous injuries, or logged less than 1,650 minutes, the Sixers would be able to release him for cost savings.
Embiid played exceptionally well over the next two seasons. He averaged 22.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per outing in 2017-18. The following season, his numbers included 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game in 64 appearances. And this season, Embiid is averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 44 outings.
Coming into the 2019-20 NBA season, Joel Embiid needed to record 1,650 minutes in order for his contract to become fully guaranteed over the remaining three years. When the NBA suspended the season back in March, due to the coronavirus, there was uncertainty as to whether the season would resume.
Fortunately for Embiid, the league decided to consider Mar. 11 as the official end of the regular season. Additionally, thanks to an agreement between the NBA and NBPA to prorate performance-based bonuses for the season, the minutes played requirement was reduced. And thanks to that agreement, Embiid’s 1,329 minutes exceeded the reduced minutes total. This means he will be paid a total of $94.6 million over the final three years of his contract. He will make $29.5 million next season, $31.5 million in 2021-22, and $33.6 million in 2022-23.
Embiid has been working out over the past several weeks and offered this statement via CBS Sports:
“We’ve been going at it for the past four weeks, about six times a week, just trying to get a head start and get ready for whatever’s coming. I have something to prove, and I feel like whenever that opportunity comes, it’s going to be my time… I felt like before the season got shut down, I was on that path. Especially after that All-Star game, my mentality completely changed. The first part of the season wasn’t up to my standard, not even close. I was on that path of changing it all, go out, and make it happen.”
When the eight-game tuneup commences at the end of July, Joel Embiid and the Sixers will be in the No. 6 spot in the East. Whether the Sixers are a legitimate title contender remains to be seen.
On the flip side of the coin, the Sixers have locked up their talented big man for the next few seasons and they continue to build around him going forward.