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Report: Contract allows Sixers to waive Joel Embiid if foot, back issues cost 25 games or more

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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.

LeBron James forcefully shoots down idea he came to Los Angeles for showbiz

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LeBron James is a smart man, one who knows what his empire is built upon:

Basketball.

And him being better than anyone else in the world at it.

While his post-career life is in Los Angeles — his production company has “The Wall” on NBC, is in the early stages of putting together an NBC comedy about the family life of Ben Simmons, is producing “The Shop” on HBO, is making “Space Jam 2” with LeBron as the star, and more — do not suggest to LeBron that might get in the way of basketball.

“I’m a basketball player. I play ball, that’s what I do,” LeBron said earlier in his press conference. “That’s what I live by and when I do it at the level I do it at everything else takes care of itself.

“As far as my business, those things have been taking care of themselves long before I came out here to be part of the Lakers franchise.”

LeBron is right about that. His production company — led by Maverick Carter — has been working on Space Jam for a couple of years now, and if LeBron had decided to stay in Cleveland or sign in Philadephia or anywhere else that project would still be going forward. They’d still be filming next summer in the off-season, regardless of where he played.

LeBron is very good at compartmentalizing his life. The great ones are. Kobe Bryant had side projects, but it never slowed down the effort he put into the game. Same is going on right now with Stephen Curry and James Harden. Michael Jordan did it before them, and Magic Johnson before him. Those guys have brands that are empires of their own now, but they all know what the foundation of that success is.

And they don’t let anything get in the way of basketball. Not like that.

Enes Kanter: ‘When I think about playoffs, my nipples get hard’

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The Knicks season should be about laying a foundation. They’ll remain patient with their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, returning from injury. They said they won’t trade draft picks.

But they’ve also paid enough lip service to competing this season to, um, excite Enes Kanter.

SNY:

We’ll be sure to check in on the softness of Kanter’s nipples when the Knicks miss the playoffs by dozens of games.

Tom Thibodeau says he expect Jimmy Butler to report to Timberwolves if not traded within week

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Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor reportedly ordered team president Tom Thibodeau to trade Jimmy Butler, who is excused from participating in media day and training camp (apparently because of his hand injury).

But Thibodeau isn’t rushing to proclaim Butler will be dealt.

Chris Hine of the StarTribune:

Kent Youngblood of the StarTribune:

If Butler isn’t traded in the next week, this could get incredibly awkward. Would Butler report? If he does, how would Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins each react?

I expect this to be moot. The odds are stacked highly in favor of Minnesota dealing Butler soon.

But, now, there’s a close deadline with even more drama looming on the other side.

LeBron James: Lakers ‘long way’ from Warriors

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The Lakers’ front office insists they’re trying to beat the Warriors.

Los Angeles’ newest star, LeBron James, isn’t there yet.

“We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” LeBron said. “They can pick up right where they left off.

“We’re picking up from scratch. So, we have a long way to go. … Hopefully, someday, we can put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a championship, as Golden State has done for the last few years.”

How will LeBron – who has won three titles in the last seven years and reached the NBA Finals the last eight years – react if the Lakers aren’t on that level this season?

“I don’t believe the only thing of success in marking a season is winning a championship,” LeBron said. “There’s only one champion. But that doesn’t mean you’re not successful.”

LeBron has made similar arguments before, and I agree with him. Championships are the most important measure of team success, but they’re not the only measure. There are plenty of ways for teams to satisfactorily grow and compete in a season.

But this sure didn’t sound like the same LeBron who said in June of the Cavaliers’ 2016 title, “It made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships, and I still want to be in championship mode.” A key storyline in Los Angeles will be whether/when LeBron regains that hunger.