The Sixers have exercised their team options for 2016/17 on Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Nik Stauskas, the team announced. League sources told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer the moves would happen shortly before they took place. The news comes as no shock, as Pompey notes, though it represents a noteworthy vote of confidence for Embiid, to whom the Sixers are committing a salary of $4,826,160 for that season without him having played a single regular season game yet. Noel will make more than $4.384MM and Stauskas will see about $2.993MM on their 2016/17 options, as our post on Upcoming Rookie Scale Option Decisions shows, adding in excess of $12MM to Philadelphia’s payroll and doubling the team’s salary commitments for that season.
Teams are facing a Monday deadline for rookie scale team options like these. The vast majority of the these options are exercised, even in cases in which players have yet to blossom, though rarely does a highly touted prospect’s career begin as inauspiciously as Embiid’s has. Philadelphia committed the third overall pick to him last year, knowing that he’d already suffered a broken foot. He wound up missing all of 2014/15, and a follow-up surgery is expected to cost him the entire 2015/16 season, too.
Noel’s option was much more of an open-and-shut case. He, like Embiid, missed his first year under contract with the Sixers because of injury, but the 2013 No. 6 pick delivered last season, finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting and averaging 9.9 points and 8.1 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game. He’ll be up for a rookie scale extension next summer.
Stauskas, another former top-10 pick, struggled in his rookie season last year as a member of the Kings, shooting just 32.2% from 3-point range after connecting on 44.1% of his 3-pointers in college. He came to Philadelphia via offseason trade, and while injuries forced him to miss the preseason and the first game of the regular season for the Sixers, he’s probable for tonight’s contest, according to Pompey.
One more matter the Sixers have until Monday to resolve is whether to grant a rookie scale extension to Tony Wroten, though little suggestion exists that they’ll sign him to one, so he’s likely set for restricted free agency in July. The Sixers also have a team option on Hollis Thompson for 2016/17, but a decision on that isn’t due until the summer because he’s not on a rookie scale contract.
Are the Sixers wise to be patient with Embiid? Leave a comment to tell us.