Joel Embiid

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Hayward, Lin, Raptors

Heading into the Sixers‘ season opener on Wednesday, Joel Embiid was only expected to receive between 15 and 20 minutes of playing time, prompting the fourth-year center to sound off with his thoughts on the minutes restriction.

However, prior to tip-off, head coach Brett Brown suggested that Embiid’s minutes limit could increase quickly (Twitter link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer), and Brown made good on that statement just hours later. Embiid played 27 minutes in the Sixers’ opener against Washington, which surprised the former third overall pick.

Having successfully pushed to increase his minutes – for at least one game – Embiid is now hopeful that he’ll be cleared to participate in back-to-back games, as Pompey writes at Philly.com. The Sixers’ first set of back-to-back games will take place this weekend, as the team hosts Boston on Friday before heading to Toronto for a Saturday contest.

“Yesterday I played, and my body feels great today,” the Sixers’ star center said on Thursday. “My knee feels amazing. So I feel like if I have to play today, I would play depending on how I feel. But I feel like I’m ready.”

As we wait to see how the 76ers handle Embiid, let’s check in on a few more Atlantic notes…

  • Asked about Gordon Hayward‘s potential return, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on Thursday that it’s too early to put a timetable on the forward’s recovery, as Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald details. “I think it’s just safe to say that we’re not counting on him this year and go from there,” Ainge said. “Just take the pressure off him and let him heal correctly is the most important thing and not even really talk about when he should return to play. That’ll work itself out over time.”
  • Ainge, who said the Celtics are exploring possible roster additions, added that the club is “not in a major rush” to make any moves, per Bulpett.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post spoke to orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Gladstone about the outlook for Nets guard Jeremy Lin‘s recovery from his season-ending knee injury.
  • The Raptors will face an interesting balancing act this season as they focus on both short-term success and long-term development of their younger players, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. That balancing act got off to a promising start on Thursday, with youngsters like Delon Wright and OG Anunoby playing key roles in Toronto’s win over Chicago.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Saric, Bench

Asked on Monday about the possibility of a minutes limit for Joel Embiid to start the season, Sixers head coach Brett Brown said the club doesn’t necessarily have a specific amount in mind. However, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, Brown suggested that the young center would continue to see minutes in the teens, as he had in the preseason. Told later about Brown’s comments, Embiid expressed disappointment, though he insisted he trusts the Sixers and team doctors.

“I got a voice,” Embiid said. “They got to listen to me. … If I feel great and my body feels great and my knee is fine, I should play 30 minutes or more. I definitely have my opinion on that. They are going to hear me. We are going to discuss it.”

As Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia details (via Twitter), Embiid railed against his minutes restriction again on Tuesday, using more colorful language — it’s “f—ing bulls–t,” in Embiid’s view. The fourth-year big man also said he thought he’d be playing at least 24 minutes a night to start the year, adding that he doesn’t believe in the concept of minute restrictions to begin with (Twitter links).

As we wait to see if the Sixers and Embiid can find common ground on his playing time, let’s round up a few more items out of Philadelphia…

  • In his weekly mailbag for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton explored how many games – and minutes – Embiid would need to play for the Sixers to become a probable playoff team. Pelton estimates that 55 games played sounds about right, assuming Embiid averages close to 25 minutes in those contests.
  • Dario Saric was the Sixers’ most productive player down the stretch last season, but will come off the bench to start the 2017/18 campaign. As he tells Sarah Todd of Philly.com, if he can’t start games, Saric hopes to be part of the lineup that finishes them.
  • In a separate article for Philly.com, Todd takes a closer look at the Sixers’ bench, which – led by Saric – features an intriguing mix of depth, upside, and experience.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Fultz, Pullen, Anderson

The Sixers expect to have Joel Embiid ready for Wednesday’s opener at Washington, tweets Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The fourth-year center, who signed a rookie-scale extension last week, sat out practice today, but coach Brett Brown told reporters he expects Embiid to practice on Monday and be ready for the first game.

Brown also said rookie point guard Markelle Fultz, the top pick in this year’s draft, will start the season as a reserve (Twitter link). Fultz was limited by knee and shoulder injuries in the preseason and didn’t see much playing time.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • Converting his contract to a two-way deal was fine with Jacob Pullen, who was looking for any way to get on an NBA roster, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers made the move Saturday, which will keep Pullen with the Delaware 87ers for most of the season. Players on two-way contracts are limited to 45 days in the NBA and salaries that top out at about $275K. But at age 27, Pullen found that preferable to spending another season overseas. “Knowing what I know now and knowing what my dreams are, where I want to be, you have to take this,” said Pullen, who spent last year in Russia and has also played in Italy, Israel, Spain and Croatia. “I tell people all the time, there are three ways to the top — the escalator, elevator, stairs. Some people get the elevator. Some get the escalator. Some walk up all of the flights of stairs. The NBA is an important thing to me now. It’s a dream that I want to come true. So I’ll take the stairs.”
  • Justin Anderson may compete with Jahlil Okafor to be the Sixers’ most improved player, Pompey writes in a separate piece. The 23-year-old swingman, who was traded to Philadelphia in February, dropped weight over the offseason and worked to improve his outside shot.
  • Although Ben Simmons still has some flaws him his game, he impressed opposing coaches with his potential during preseason, Pompey adds in another story. Simmons is preparing for his official rookie season after sitting out all of last year while recovering from a broken foot. “That kid, they are not talking about him enough – the way he moves with the ball, his ability to see the floor, the way he can get places on the floor,” said Grizzlies coach David Fizdale. “I think once he gets confidence in the shot, where you really have to close out on him to the three, wow, he is a big-time talent.”

Poll: Is Embiid Or Wiggins The Better Investment?

Two 2014 first-round picks signed five-year, maximum salary contract extensions within the last few days, beating the October 16 deadline for rookie scale extensions. While both players are, of course, significantly valued by their respective teams, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins have had very different NBA careers so far.

Embiid’s injury problems have been well chronicled, to the point that they’re hardly worth revisiting, but the upshot is that those health issues have limited him to just 31 games in three NBA seasons. Even when he did see the court, the Sixers center was on a minutes restriction, averaging about 25 minutes per contest.

However, in his 786 career minutes, Embiid has looked like a generational talent, combining an ability to rebound and protect the rim (7.8 RPG, 2.5 BPG) with a knack for scoring both in the post and from beyond the arc (.367 3PT%).

Wiggins, on the other hand, has been incredibly durable during his first three NBA seasons, missing just one of 246 possible games. He has also steadily increased his scoring numbers each season, pouring in a career-high 23.6 PPG in 2016/17.

Those scoring totals are more reliant on volume than efficiency though, and Wiggins’ ability to put the ball in the basket hasn’t been complemented by many other on-court contributions — his defense has been shaky, he doesn’t get many rebounds or assists, and his three-point shot, despite improving last season, remains somewhat unreliable.

Both the Sixers and Timberwolves locked up their respective youngsters because of their potential. In Embiid’s case, it’s his potential to stay healthy. For Wiggins, it’s his potential to develop into a more well-rounded, complete player.

Philadelphia’s agreement with Embiid includes some language that protects the Sixers in the event that the former third overall pick continues to battle injuries in problematic areas, like his feet and back. But in that scenario, the Sixers would have to waive Embiid outright, and they’d still be on the hook for significant guaranteed money — approximately $84MM if they waive him one year into the deal, $98MM if they waive him after two years, and so on.

Wiggins’ contract, meanwhile, doesn’t include that sort of protection. It’s a straight five-year deal with no options.

Given those parameters, which contract would you feel more comfortable with for the next half-decade? Do you have more confidence in Wiggins to develop his game and make good on the Timberwolves’ investment in him, or would you rather be in the Sixers’ spot with Embiid, rolling the dice on his ability to stay healthy and to become one of the league’s premier bigs?

Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

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Details On Joel Embiid’s Contract Extension

Sixers center Joel Embiid officially signed a five-year, maximum salary contract extension this week. Based on the latest cap projections, Embiid would earn $146.45MM over the life of a standard five-year, maximum salary extension, assuming the default language remains unchanged. However, Embiid’s unusual agreement with Philadelphia could result in him earning significant more or less than that amount.

As Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN explain, Embiid’s deal is “essentially guaranteed,” but offers the Sixers protection in the event that the young center suffers a major injury that’s related to one of his previous health problems.

Here are the highlights from Wojnarowski and Marks, who are themselves recapping the highlights from Embiid’s 35-page-plus contract:

  • If Embiid sustains a “contractually agreed upon injury” that results in him missing 25+ games or playing fewer than 1,650 minutes during a given season, the Sixers would have the option of waiving him and reducing the amount of overall guaranteed money he’s owed.
  • The specific injuries covered in the contract are related to areas that have problematic for Embiid in the past, like his feet and back. If he were to miss 25+ games with – for instance – a wrist injury, the Sixers wouldn’t have the option of releasing him for cost savings.
  • If Embiid were to suffer an injury that met the above criteria and the Sixers wanted to waive him, the team would still be on the hook for the following amounts:
    • $84.2MM if waived after 2018/19.
    • $98.2MM if waived after 2019/20.
    • $113.3MM if waived after 2020/21.
    • $129.4MM if waived after 2021/22.
  • If Embiid plays 1,650 minutes for three consecutive years – or for three out of four years (including 2017/18) – during the extension, the Sixers would lose their right to create cost savings by waiving him.
  • If Embiid earns First Team All-NBA honors or is voted NBA MVP in 2017/18, his starting salary to begin the extension would be worth 30% of the cap instead of 25%. Based on the latest cap projections, that would put the five-year value at $175.74MM.

Overall, while the agreement offers the Sixers some protection, it’s a very favorable deal for Embiid. He’s essentially guaranteed at least $84.2MM, and it would be shocking if he doesn’t earn more than that — the Sixers would have to waive him just one year into the extension for his earnings to be that low.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Porzingis, LeVert, Valanciunas

The Sixers decided to take a risk as the franchise signed talented but oft-injured center Joel Embiid, to a five-year, maximum salary extension this week. It’s a lofty commitment to a player who has appeared in just 31 regular season NBA games in three years. However, it could also prove to be a steal if Embiid can stay healthy and match his output from last season, David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

In 25.4 minutes per game last season, Embiid, 23, averaged 20.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 2.5 BPG. This season, Embiid will be a focal point on a Sixers team with highly-touted rookies (Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz), veterans (J.J. Redick). Murphy also notes that compared to centers such as Steven Adams and Timofey Mozgov, who signed lucrative deals, Embiid possesses a rare upside that could make a huge difference in Philadelphia.

Embiid has been limited in practice this preseason but is expected to make his debut versus Brooklyn tomorrowIt will be the first step in determining whether or not the Sixers’ franchise-altering signing was a mistake or a bargain.

Read about additional news from the Atlantic Division below:

Joel Embiid Signs Max Extension With Sixers

OCTOBER 10, 11:36am: The extension is official, the team announced on Twitter. We should soon find out more specifics on the deal, which was described to ESPN’s Zach Lowe as “perhaps the most complex” in NBA history (Twitter link).

OCTOBER 9, 4:45pm: The Sixers and center Joel Embiid have agreed on a five-year, $148MM designated rookie scale max extension, league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

This ends all the speculation regarding Philadelphia’s commitment to the supremely talented but oft-injured big man. Embiid missed the first two seasons of his career because of foot injuries and only appeared in 31 games last season before he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. Ultimately, the franchise’s brass felt comfortable locking up Embiid, rather than waiting to see if he could remain healthy for a full season.

In fact, the contract could even be richer than that, as Wojnarowski explains in a subsequent post. Embiid could potentially earn millions of dollars more if he meets certain criteria, including making All-NBA teams or winning the Most Valuable Player award. If Embiid meets the ‘Super Max’ criteria, he could earn an as much as $178MM, league sources told Wojnarowski.

The Sixers will have some cap protections should Embiid sustain an injury that would cause him to miss significant time, Wojnarowski adds.

Embiid underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery in March to fix a meniscus tear in his left knee. He has yet to appear in a preseason game, as the Sixers are taking a cautious approach.

Prior to the injury, he showed the ability to be a future All-Star. He averaged 20.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 2.5 BPG in 25.4 MPG. He would have easily led all rookies in those category if he played enough games to qualify.

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo told the media last month that he was cautiously optimistic concerning Embiid’s extension talks. The two sides had until October 16 to reach an agreement and they beat the deadline by a week. If they hadn’t come to terms, Embiid would have been a restricted free agent next summer.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Saric, Covington, Fultz

Joel Embiid‘s teammates believe the Sixers made the right move by rewarding him with a five-year extension, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid is slated to receive $148MM, but the value could go as high as $178MM if he meets certain criteria. There are also several salary cap protections to guard the organization against further injury for Embiid, who has played just 31 games in three seasons. “Have you seen him play? He’s a beast,” Ben Simmons responded when asked about the extension. “I can’t name one person that can stop him. Honestly, there’s nobody that can compete with him at his position. No one.”

Embiid is still recovering from “minor” surgery in March to fix a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Sixers were hoping to have him ready for the October 18 season opener, but rehab has been going well and Pompey suggests he may play in Friday’s preseason finale. Embiid’s last game before the surgery was January 27.

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • Embiid’s cap hit for next summer will be either $25.2MM or $30.3MM, depending on whether he meets the qualifications for the 30% max, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic. If Embiid is only at the 25% max, Philadelphia will have about $53.34MM in committed salary heading into next year’s free agent sweepstakes. That leaves roughly $47.6MM, but that figure will be reduced by draft picks and option decisions. The Sixers may have two first-rounders if they land the Lakers’ pick, and they have to determine whether to extend rookie-scale contracts for Jahlil Okafor ($6.3MM in 2018/19), Dario Saric ($2.5MM) and Justin Anderson ($2.5MM) by the end of October. Bodner writes that the Sixers are certain to pick up Saric’s option, but Okafor and Anderson are less definite. Philadelphia also has team options on T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes valued at $1.6MM each, but those don’t have to be addressed until June 29.
  • The team’s most important remaining salary decision involves Robert Covington, Bodner adds in the same piece. Starting November 15, Covington will be eligible to have his contract renegotiated or extended. He will become a free agent with a $3MM cap hold next summer if nothing is done.
  • Rookie guard Markelle Fultz may still be suffering the effects of a right shoulder injury, Pompey relays in a separate story. The first overall pick had to sit out Friday’s game and is shooting just 29.2% from the floor in the preseason. “I think his shoulder is affecting him more than he lets on,” coach Brett Brown said. “You can tell with his free throw, you know, trying to get that ball up. Its follow from his body. But he’s been working on just trying to get that thing rehabilitated.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Hornacek, Holmes, Morris

The Sixers could still have $40MM in cap space next season despite agreeing to a five-year, $148MM extension with center Joel Embiid, ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out. Embiid’s starting salary of $25.3MM is $7MM more than his $18.3MM cap hold for the 2018/19 season, Marks continues. Philadelphia still has just $57MM in guaranteed contract commitments for next season, Marks adds.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • The current Knicks roster puts head coach Jeff Hornacek in a no-win situation, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News argues. The front office has stressed improvement in effort and stops but recent acquisitions Tim Hardaway Jr., Michael Beasley, Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott won’t improve the defense, Bondy continues. Hornacek will have the unenviable task of trying to develop a system to mask those defensive shortcomings, Bondy adds.
  • Injured Sixers power forward Richaun Holmes doesn’t believe he’ll require surgery on his injured wrist, Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. Holmes suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left wrist during a preseason game on Friday.
  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris needs to drops about seven pounds and work on his conditioning but he plans to play the regular-season opener, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports. Morris missed a portion of training camp while on trial in Phoenix for an assault charge. He was acquitted.
  • Forward K.J. McDaniels and Alfonzo McKinnie are likely fighting for the final spot on the Raptors’ opening-day roster, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. There’s room for both but GM Bobby Webster has expressed a desire to leave a spot open, Smith continues. Raptors coach Dwane Casey told Smith and other media members that the competition between the two is close. “There’s right now no clear-cut favorite going into this week,” he said.

Atlantic Notes: Kanter, Noah, Okafor, Embiid

Enes Kanter, acquired in the deal for Carmelo Anthony, could be the Knicks‘ starting center when the season begins. The former Thunder big man has been an effective scorer and offensive rebounder but his lack of defensive ability could hurt his case, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Kanter, 25, is in a three-man competition for the center job along with Willy Hernangomez and Joakim Noah. But there are only two people competing for the opening night job as Noah will be suspended 12 games due violating the NBA’s drug program. Kanter said he has lost 37 pounds since June to become quicker on defense and coach Jeff Hornacek — who acknowledged Kanter’s defensive shortcomings — believes his new center has shown improvements.

“The game has slowed down for him — I think he’s become better defensively on what teams are trying to do,’’ Hornacek said. “He didn’t play at Kentucky, [so] he was pretty raw his first year. Now he’s been around the league. He’s one of the best [true] centers in this league right now.’’

Kanter said he’s happy in New York and prepared for life after Oklahoma City. The Knicks open the season against the Thunder in OKC on October 19.

Check out other news around the Atlantic Division below:

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