The Philadelphia 76ers are in a difficult spot.
When you have a franchise cornerstone, potential superstar player it’s a no brainer to lock him up and give him a max contract extension off his rookie deal. But what if that potential superstar has played just 31 games in three seasons due to injury.
That’s the Sixers choice with Joel Embiid — in those 31 games Embiid was phenomenal, the Sixers played lock-down defense and looked like a playoff team, and the fans love Embiid. As their owner Joshua Harris told Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times, he would like to get a deal done, and other sources told Moore it’s not just about basketball.
“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris said. “We want us all to grow old together.”
“He’s got the public on his side,” said a league source. “It’s a public relations nightmare (for the Sixers).”
There have been some rumors the Sixers would reach a deal with Embiid, and Moore thinks it will happen.
My sense is it’s likely that Embiid gets his extension by Oct. 16. The Sixers are in a tough spot because they really need him and have no other big man on the roster capable of having anywhere near Embiid’s impact.
That’s a lot of money for Philly to bet on a guy who has had two foot surgeries and missed the end of last season with a knee surgery. Could Philly get him to take less, let’s say four-years around $100 million (starting salary is say $22 million or a little more)? Your reaction may be “he’s played just 31 games, Embiid should jump at that offer,” but his camp knows if he plays 65 games or so this season he will get max contract offers as a restricted free agent next summer (and maybe even if he plays a little less than that). Embiid and his agent might play this year out and see if they can get maxed next summer (obviously, the risk there is another injury and what that would cost him financially).
Figuring into this, how much will the Sixers let him play? The team has 14 back-to-backs, will the team play him in those? He will want to play, could this lead to some tension?
There is no easy answer here. The sides will talk, but if Embiid and agent Leon Rose hold out for a max deal, expect the Sixers to let the season play out then make the call next summer (when they can match any offer). If the two sides can agree to something a little less, a deal gets done.