Joel Embiid

Crowded All-NBA Field Will Impact Several Contract Situations

When Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer shared his early All-NBA picks this week, he rightly pointed out that limiting the field to 15 players will leave a number of worthy candidates on the outside looking in. O’Connor had to exclude worthy contenders such as Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, Jaylen Brown, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, Trae Young, Jrue Holiday, and Kyrie Irving from his three All-NBA teams.

Among the other players left off the top 15 by O’Connor were Donovan Mitchell, Zach LaVine, Bam Adebayo, and De’Aaron Fox. Those players are especially notable because an All-NBA spot this season would either substantially increase the value of the contract extensions they signed last offseason or would put them in line for a significantly more lucrative extension this summer.

Jayson Tatum, who earned a spot on O’Connor’s All-NBA Third Team, is in the same boat. Like Mitchell, Adebayo, and Fox, he signed a rookie scale extension that includes Rose Rule language, which could bump his starting salary from 25% of the cap to 30% of the cap.

Here are how those players, who signed five-year, maximum-salary contract extensions last offseason, will be affected by whether or not they earn All-NBA honors. These are projected values based on a 3% salary cap increase.

Player No All-NBA All-NBA
Donovan Mitchell $163,000,590 $195,600,710
Jayson Tatum $163,000,590 $195,600,710
Bam Adebayo $163,000,590 $185,820,675 (First Team only)
De’Aaron Fox $163,000,590 $169,522,180 (Third Team) *

* Fox’s deal would be worth $182,560,660 if he makes the All-NBA Second Team and $195,600,710 if he makes the First Team.

Fox probably has no chance at making an All-NBA team, given the competition at guard and the Kings’ spot in the standings. The other three players here have better cases, but Adebayo is likely a long shot, making Mitchell and Tatum the most realistic candidates. They’d only need to sneak onto the Third Team to increase the projected value of their new five-year deals by more than $32MM.

As O’Connor writes, Tatum has a clearer path to an All-NBA spot than Mitchell based on his position. The guard spot is absolutely stacked this season — Mitchell would have to beat out at least one of Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, and James Harden, as well as all the guards mentioned at the top of this story. As good as he’s been, he may be left out.

While Tatum, Mitchell, Adebayo, and Fox have already negotiated “super-max” language into their contracts and are now trying to guarantee a salary increase by earning All-NBA honors, a handful of players will become eligible for a higher maximum salary on a new extension if they make an All-NBA team this year. An All-NBA spot would either make them eligible for a Rose Rule extension or a Designated Veteran Extension.

Here are those players, along with the projected contract extension they’d become eligible for with an All-NBA nod. These projections are on the conservative side, since they’re based on annual salary cap increases of just 3%.

Player Max extension with All-NBA spot
Year it would begin
Nikola Jokic
Five years, $242,098,25 2023/24 *
Joel Embiid
Four years, $187,000,032 2023/24
Zach LaVine
Five years, $235,046,855 2022/23
Luka Doncic Five years, $201,468,730 2022/23

* Jokic would have to wait until the 2022 offseason to sign a super-max extension. The others could sign extensions during the 2021 offseason.

Embiid is still under contract for two more years beyond 2020/21, which is why he’d only be able to tack on four new years to his current deal instead of five. Jokic is in a similar spot, but because he’ll only have six years of NBA service at the end of this season, he’d have to wait until 2022 to officially sign an extension, at which point he’d be eligible for five new years instead of just four.

Doncic’s potential extension has the lowest average value of any of these hypothetical deals because he’d only be eligible for a starting salary worth 30% of the cap, instead of 35%, due to his limited years of NBA service.

MVP candidates Jokic, Embiid, and Doncic all look like pretty safe bets to make an All-NBA team this spring, and I imagine the Nuggets, Sixers, and Mavericks will be ready to put super-max extension offers on the table for their respective stars as soon as they’re eligible to sign them.

As for LaVine, he likely won’t make an All-NBA team, which may be a relief for the Bulls — deciding whether or not to offer LaVine a standard maximum contract could be a difficult decision in its own right. If he were eligible for a super-max, that would make negotiations even more challenging.

Assuming LaVine doesn’t earn All-NBA honors, he’d only be eligible for a four-year, $104.83MM extension this offseason. However, the Bulls could go higher than that if they renegotiate his 2021/22 salary using their cap room, or if they wait until the 2022 offseason — as a free agent, LaVine would be eligible for a five-year contract worth up to $201.47MM (projection based on 3% annual cap increases) if he re-signs with Chicago, even without All-NBA honors.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Embiid, Ball, Claxton, Nets

If Sixers center Joel Embiid were to win the 2020/21 MVP award, it’d provide a sense of achievement for the team as a whole, head coach Doc Rivers opined, as relayed by Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I think any individual award, no one does anything by themselves, right?” Rivers said. “So I think it would be a feel-good thing for the entire locker room. You know, obviously for Joel, because it is a hell of an accomplishment.”

Embiid is a strong candidate for the award, averaging a career-high 29.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 49 games this season. In addition to Embiid’s impressive averages, Philadelphia holds the best record in the Eastern Conference at 47-21. However, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who has put up huge numbers and has played over 800 more minutes than Embiid, is widely considered to be the MVP frontrunner.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes that Hornets guard LaMelo Ball has been grabbing at his wrist in recent games, and explores whether it should be a concern for the team. Ball recently missed 21 games after fracturing the same wrist, returning to action on May 1.
  • Nets center Nicolas Claxton tested positive for COVID-19 but wasn’t hit hard by the virus, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Claxton entered the league’s health and safety protocols on April 19. “I was testing positive for COVID,” Claxton said of his recent absence. “But I didn’t have any symptoms. I was just stuck in Miami, just there quarantining for about 10 days so I wasn’t really able to do much. I did a few quarantine workouts, but it’s just tough having to sit like that and then coming out here having to play. It’s just another obstacle. It’s nothing that I can’t conquer. This last week, it’s been a challenge, but it hasn’t been too tough … I’m just trying to get my rhythm back, get my wind back right before the playoffs so we’ll be able to make that push.”
  • Speaking of the Nets, the team will be focused on its health and continuity as the playoffs near, Peter Botte of the New York Post writes. Brooklyn has dealt with significant injuries throughout the season, failing to sport a consistent starting lineup and effectively build chemistry. The team still has one of the most talented rosters in history, particularly on offense, making its future playoff journey intriguing.

Atlantic Notes: Birch, Barrett, Raptors, Sixers

Nick Nurse expects the Raptors‘ new buyout addition, center Khem Birch, to join the club tonight against the Knicks, tweets Josh Lewenberg of The Athletic.

“I think he’s a guy that could become a quality backup big man in this league,” the Raptors’ head coach said. “He’s got some length, athleticism, shot blocking and rebounding. I’m excited to have him and hope we can help him develop.”

Birch joins the Raptors after having cleared waivers following his buyout from the Magic, where he was a solid contributor.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Standout second-year Knicks forward RJ Barrett has greatly improved his shooting stroke, thanks in large part to the efforts of skills trainer Drew Hanlen, as Michael Grange of Sportsnet details. “Not pointing fingers, but there was a level of frustration that he played with because he felt like he had made the shot change that he needed to make during the pre-draft and after putting three months of hard work to lock in those mechanics, they instantly go tweaked and changed to a place where he felt really uncomfortable and he lacked the confidence and consistency he needed,” Hanlen said of Barrett’s rookie Knicks season.
  • Many Raptors players are more concerned about their future contracts than helping contribute to a potential team tank during a strange season for Toronto-by-way-of-Tampa, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports.
  • Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid is learning to adjust to playing with a left knee brace, according to Rich Hoffman of The Athletic. “It just feels like every shot that I take, I just have a hitch. Like it’s not a full motion,” Embiid said. In the same piece, head coach Doc Rivers noted that new addition Anthony Tolliver could help the club, though he may not receive much playing time. “He’s a veteran, can shoot the ball, been around the block, which I think this team needs,” Rivers said. “So I think he can help.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Poirier, Rozier, Trent

Sixers center Joel Embiid feared his season was over when he injured his knee last month, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid landed awkwardly after a dunk and his knee bent backward, causing a hyperextension that forced him to miss 10 games.

“When I got hurt and laying on the floor in Washington, I honestly thought I was done,” he said. “I thought my season was done. You know, the pain, you know how bad it was hurting, I just knew that it was something worse than we saw. (Afterward) I was just crying and asking myself, ‘Why me? Why does it always happen to me?’ When everything seems to be going well for my team and myself, something always has to happen.”

Embiid returned to the court Saturday night, playing 29 minutes and posting 24 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in a win over the Timberwolves. With 23 games remaining, Embiid can still be a strong MVP contender if he avoids any more injuries.

“(Friday) was really the first time I went full court since I got hurt,” he said. “So it’s going to take a while to get back to myself. But my body feels great, obviously game shape is different than how your body feels. But the main thing is my body feels great. I’ve just got to keep putting up these games and these practices and I will be back to where I was before I got hurt.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers refused to respond to comments from Vincent Poirier, who told a French newspaper that Rivers didn’t reach out to him after a trade last week, Pompey adds in a separate story. Poirier was sent to the Knicks, who waived him three days later. “I wish someone had told me, ‘We were wrong. You can’t play with us,’” Poirier said. “I like it when things are straight. The coach didn’t even send a message although I know he sent (one to) others. I’m not asking him to give me compliments, but just a message to wish me good luck.”
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports questions whether the Celtics should have invested in Terry Rozier two years ago instead of signing Kemba Walker. Although Walker got off to a strong start in Boston, he has been slowed by knee issues this season and is still owed $73.6MM over the next two years. Rozier is having a career-best season with the Hornets, averaging 20.3 points per game.
  • Gary Trent Jr. looks like a perfect fit with the Raptors, writes Scott Rafferty of NBA Canada. In five games since being acquired from the Trail Blazers, Trent is scoring 16.8 PPG and shooting 43.2% from three-point range.

Joel Embiid Could Return Saturday

The Sixers anticipate that they will have All-Star center Joel Embiid back in action as early as this Saturday against the Timberwolves, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The 27-year-old has been unavailable for Philadelphia since March 12, when he suffered a bone bruise in his left knee.

Embiid had been a frontrunner for 2020/21 season MVP honors before a knee injury waylaid him for three weeks. Across 31 games thus far with Philadelphia this year, the seven-footer out of Kansas is averaging 29.9 PPG (a career high), to go along with 11.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.4 BPG and 1.2 SPG. His shooting has grown by leaps and bounds this season, as his slash line of .525/.422/.859 (all career-bests) reflects.

The Sixers have held their own in Embiid’s absence. Philadelphia boasts an 8-8 record across the games Embiid has missed thus far this season, thanks to his fellow All-Star Ben Simmons and the contributions of starters Tobias Harris, Danny Green and Seth Curry (though Curry, too, has missed time), plus intriguing young players like Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton. The team also recently added sharpshooting veteran point guard George Hill to help shore up its backcourt depth.

At 32-15, Philadelphia is currently perched atop of the Eastern Conference. With a healthy Embiid in tow this spring, the Sixers could be a threat to make their first NBA Finals in 20 years.

Sixers Notes: Hill, Rivers, Embiid, Reed

The Sixers weren’t able to land Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline, but they upgraded their backcourt with the deal that brought George Hill from the Thunder, write Rich Hofmann and Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Philadelphia continued to pursue Lowry even after the Hill trade was complete, according to the authors, but the Raptors weren’t willing to lower their asking price before the deadline arrived.

Hill brings plenty of playoff experience, Hofmann and Bodner point out, and he gives the Sixers another ballhandler and shooter off the bench as well as a capable perimeter defender. He also provides a lot more salary flexibility than Lowry, who will be in line for a sizable contract in free agency. Hill is set to make $10.47MM next season, but only $1.275MM of that is guaranteed. He hasn’t played since having surgery on his right thumb in late January, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey expects him to be ready soon.

“What I’m trying to do is maximize our chance of winning the title over that (three-to-five year) window, with more weight for this year. So if there’s a move that ups our odds a little bit more this year, but really hurts our odds in the future, then that doesn’t make sense,” Morey said in explaining why he passed on Lowry. “If it’s a move that ups our odds a decent amount, but doesn’t affect our future odds, then that’s a move that looks pretty interesting. And so, I think this move very materially increased our championship odds, and also kept our ones in the future preserved at a very high level. ”

There’s more this morning from Philadelphia:

  • Saturday marked coach Doc Rivers‘ first trip back to Staples Center to face the Clippers, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Rivers spent seven years with the franchise and helped guide it through the Donald Sterling controversy in 2014. “I think the franchise was on the brink, if you know what I’m saying,” Rivers said, “not only how we dealt with it. But more that we responded by playing well enough to win a (playoff) series that I thought for the franchise was a must-win series because of what we were going through.”
  • Joel Embiid is making progress in recovering from the bone bruise on his left knee, Bodner tweets. Embiid, who hasn’t played since March 12, has resumed on-court basketball activities and is working on his conditioning.
  • Bodner also offers details (via Twitter) on Paul Reed‘s contract, which was converted to a standard deal this week. The G League Most Valuable Player signed a three-year agreement, but only the rest of this season is guaranteed. Philadelphia used a portion of its mid-level exception to add a third year to the minimum-salary deal.

Health Updates: Rose, Nets, Hunter, Embiid, Giannis

Knicks point guard Derrick Rose has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (via Twitter). However, it remains to be seen when he’ll be cleared to return to action, since he’ll have to rebuild his strength and conditioning following a bout with COVID-19, as Peter Botte of The New York Post writes.

“I was away because I actually had (the virus),” Rose told reporters, including Botte, on Monday. “I felt all of the symptoms, sick and everything.

“… It was completely different. They say everybody is different, but with me, I never felt anything like that before. I’ve had the flu. It was nothing like the flu. You’re drained and everything. It was that times 10. So like I said, slowly getting back, I’m progressing every day and just trying to get back in the swing of things.”

According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, Rose said that his kids, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s mother all contracted the coronavirus as well, though it didn’t hit his kids as hard.

Here are a few more health and injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Nets will be without Kyrie Irving and Landry Shamet as they begin their three-game road trip on Tuesday in Portland, writes Malika Andrews of ESPN. Irving isn’t traveling with the team as he attends to a family matter. Shamet sprained his right ankle on Sunday, though an MRI didn’t shown significant damage, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
  • While the Hawks‘ latest injury report lists De’Andre Hunter (right knee) as questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Clippers, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports says Hunter is expected return to action tonight after missing nearly two months. Hunter says he’ll be a game-time decision, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Within that same Yahoo Sports story, Haynes notes that Sixers center Joel Embiid is expected to have his left knee bone bruise reevaluated at the end of the week. Philadelphia will be extremely cautious with Embiid’s return, as the ultimate goal is to have him at 100% for the start of the playoffs in May, Haynes adds.
  • A left knee sprain will sideline Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo for Monday’s game vs. Indiana, per the NBA’s afternoon injury report.

Atlantic Notes: Nets Rotation, Embiid, Barrett, Knicks

Nets head coach Steve Nash is not worried about how the return of Kevin Durant and the incorporation of newcomer Blake Griffin will affect Brooklyn’s forward rotation, per Chris Milholen and Matthew Brooks of Nets Daily.

“We cross it when it comes because who knows who will be available when Kevin is available,” Nash said. “We are presuming everyone’s available when Kevin is, but if the season is any indication that might be full-hearted, so we’ll see.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers will be without All-Star center Joel Embiid, out multiple weeks with a bone bruise, prompting Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer to assess how the 76ers can adjust to temporary life on the floor without the big man. The team will have to lean on the scoring output of forward Tobias Harris and the passing and defensive acumen of All-Star guard Ben Simmons more than ever.
  • Second-year Knicks shooting guard RJ Barrett has elevated his game during his sophomore season, according to Barbara Barker of Newsday. Barrett is playing a crucial role for a 20-19 New York team that is currently the No. 7 seed in the East, including recording a career-high 32 points against the Thunder in a 119-97 Saturday win. He is averaging 17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 2.9 APG, and currently sports a markedly improved slash line of .452/.359/.730.
  • The second half of the Knicks‘ thus-far charmed 2020/21 season looks to be a real test for the upstart squad, says Steve Popper of Newday. Popper contends that new head coach Tom Thibodeau and newly-minted All-Star Julius Randle will be nothing if not prepared.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Morey, Trade Deadline, Harris

The Sixers got good news this morning about Joel Embiid‘s left knee, but there’s more to the story than the MRI results, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Embiid is projected to miss two to three weeks with a bone bruise after a scary fall in Friday’s game.

Bodner estimates that April 3 is probably the earliest realistic date for Embiid to return, which will affect Philadelphia’s hopes for the top seed in the East. That would mean a 10-game absence, with eight of those games against teams with records of .500 or better. Losing Embiid could affect not only the playoff seedings, but also the MVP race and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s desire to make a major trade by the March 25 deadline.

An extended absence could affect Embiid’s next contract as well, Bodner adds. If Embiid makes an All-NBA team this season or in 2021/22, he will be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension, which means his salary could start at 35% of the salary cap, rather than 30%.

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Morey gained a reputation for being aggressive at the trade deadline in Houston, but he’s cautioning Sixers fans not to count on a major deal this year, according to Dan Gelston of The Associated Press. Morey likes the cohesiveness of his current players, who are off to a 26-12 start. “We have a great group, a great chemistry, they’re playing at a high level, they play even better against very good teams,” he said. “That’s something fragile and we need to respect it. Long story short, everyone expecting some big thing, I would ask them to be excited about who we have more than what’s possible.”
  • The Sixers are “loaded with assets” as they approach the trade deadline, ESPN’s Bobby Marks says in an Instagram video. They have an $8.29MM trade exception and seven players with expiring contracts. Marks expects Philadelphia to be in the mix for Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyle Lowry.
  • Tobias Harris feels like he has something to prove after being overlooked for the All-Star Game, writes Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Harris wasn’t selected as a reserve even though he averaged 20.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in the first half of the season. “When me and (head coach Doc Rivers) talk about it, I just tell him, ‘Look, I’ve got a bounty out for all the coaches that didn’t vote for me, all the national media that skipped over me,’” Harris said. “It is what it is, but me and Doc discuss that you make your name known in the playoffs and leading this team, and being solid and what you do day in and day out. And that was my mentality.”

Joel Embiid To Miss 2-3 Weeks With Bone Bruise In Knee

Sixers MVP candidate Joel Embiid is expected to miss 2-to-3 weeks after an MRI revealed a bone bruise in his left knee, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Embiid’s MRI revealed no structural damage to his knee and there is a feeling of relief within the Philadelphia organization that the superstar’s injury isn’t worse, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

The soon-to-be 27-year-old suffered the injury on Friday night during the Sixers’ tilt against the Wizards. Embiid hyperextended his left knee after landing awkwardly following a dunk in the third quarter. Embiid stayed down for several minutes before exiting under his own power, albeit with a noticeable limp.

Friday’s contest was Embiid’s first action since before the All-Star break as he – along with teammate Ben Simmonswas forced to sit out the star-studded contest due to contact tracing. Simmons and Embiid saw the same barber who later tested positive for COVID-19 and had to isolate.

While the injury might impact his MVP odds, Embiid has played like one all season for Philadelphia. In 31 games, he is averaging 29.9 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.4 BPG and is shooting  52.5% from the field.