If Joel Embiid stays healthy, he will get all of his max contract extension — approximately $148 million over five years, something he and the Sixers agreed to on Monday. And from what we’ve seen, he would be well worth it.
The question is, what if he doesn’t stay healthy? He has played just 31 games across three NBA seasons, that’s one big Les Misérables-sized red flag.
The Sixers put protections in the contract, and now we have found out some of what they are. If Embiid misses 25 or more games — playing in fewer than 57 — in the final years of the contract due to the recurring injuries that have cost him time in the past, the Sixers have the option to waive him. Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN have the details.
Across each of the final four seasons of the extension, ending with the 2022-23 season, the 76ers could waive Embiid for a financial benefit if he’s lost because of a contractually agreed upon injury that causes him to miss 25 or more regular-season games and if he plays less than 1,650 minutes, league sources said.
Specific injuries are laid out in the contract and only include past problem areas with Embiid’s feet and back, sources said. Embiid has to miss 25 or more regular-season games because of injuries in those areas, and play less than 1,650 minutes, for Philadelphia to have the option of releasing him for cost savings…
If Embiid meets that narrow criteria and the Sixers decided to waive him after the 2018-19 season, he would receive $84.2 million of his full contract; $98.2 million after the 2019-20 season; $113.3 million after the 2020-21 season and $129.4 million after the 2021-22 season.
Some details here. First, it has to be specific injuries that Embiid has battled before — if Embiid misses half a season due to a shoulder injury, for example, the Sixers cannot waive him. Second, it does not apply to this coming NBA season, his last on his rookie scale deal, or next season, the first of the extension. The Sixers can, and likely will, be cautious with Embiid this season and he may not play much more than 50 games, even if he is healthy. They have a couple of seasons to build him up.
Also, if Embiid plays 1,650 minutes in three consecutive seasons, the right to waive goes away.
In theory, Embiid could get a super-max deal of $176 million — the Derrick Rose rule — but he would need to be named NBA MVP or make First Team All-NBA this season to reach that. Those goals are highly unlikely.
This sounds like a good deal for both sides. Embiid gets a max contract — and gets to say he’s a max player, something that is a status symbol around the NBA. The Sixers get protections. However, they likely would not waive Embiid unless he suffered a catastrophic, career-ending kind of injury. He’s too good when he plays, too valuable, for Philly to give up on him. But if it gets there, the Sixers have options.