Joel Embiid is less than 40 games into his NBA career, and the Philadelphia 76ers already have to start thinking about paying him more money.
Though the team shut him down for the rest of the season due to swelling in his knee, Embiid will be extension eligible this summer. Conventional wisdom suggests the Sixers pass and see whether Embiid can stay healthy before doubling down on the big man. Waiting only allows him to enter restricted free agency in 2018, and they’ll have the opportunity to match any offer he receives.
But Embiid, in the short time he’s been healthy, has proved to be a transcendent talent. This alone, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, will lead the Sixers to try locking him up at a slight discount (via HoopsHype):
Joel Embiid could sign a five-year, $150 million maximum contract extension, but it is likely the Sixers will push for less guaranteed money, including injury protections in the deal.
It’s certainly worth a shot for the Sixers to get an extension done now, even with Embiid’s murky health bill looming. Some team is going to roll the dice on him in restricted free agency, shelling out a max offer sheet perhaps no matter how well or poorly or much he plays in 2017-18. So if the Sixers can get him at a discount, even a slight one, before the start of next season, they have to do it.
Talents like Embiid don’t come around very often, and unless it’s determined he’ll be battling injuries for his entire career, they have no choice but to aggressively chase the return of a potential franchise savior.