Embiid played in only 31 games last season before the team announced on March 1 that he would need season-ending knee surgery. According to ESPN, the Sixers have built some protections into Embiid's deal that would offer the team salary cap protections should he suffer an injury and miss a significant period of time.
This was the logic that Bryan Colangelo's predecessor used when he chose to select Embiid at No. 3 overall in 2014. Philadelphia could have waited out the 2017-18 season to see how Embiid's body held up before negotiating an extension, but clearly had no interest in allowing that situation to loom over the team for the next nine months. But even then, Embiid would still get roughly half this contract.
Simmons was asked by a reporter why Embiid deserves all that money. The 7-footer scored 20 points 19 times and became the first player in the shot clock era to average at least 20 points per game while playing less than 26 minutes per game, according to the Sixers. And, yes, the Sixers had drafted a big man in the first round the year before.
"Since drafting Joel third overall in 2014, he has solidified himself as a pillar in this franchise and to this city", 76ers managing general partner Josh Harris said in a statement. He has near unlimited potential, from the ability to win the league's defensive player of the year award to pushing his scoring average into the high 20s.
The deal comes as a surprise as the two sides were said to be negotiating, but progress on a long-term extension was unclear. While Embiid's injury history is certainly extensive, all of his issues have been unrelated.
Embiid, whose only college season at Kansas ended prematurely with back soreness, is the key to that plan. While Embiid needed two surgeries to fix the navicular bone in his right foot, there were no indications of any complications a year ago.
You don't mess around with players like that, especially in their formative years when the franchise has control over the negotiation.
Embiid trained in Philadelphia on Monday and will rejoin the team tonight.
Even as he signed a massive contract extension, Embiid isn't completely back on the court.
In the end, Colangelo and Embiid's agent, Leon Rose, looked like they were able to meet in the middle on this one. Now they're betting on that to hold, after reportedly handing him a 5-year, $148 million max contract that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2022-23 National Basketball Association season.