Joel Embiid

Extension Candidate: Joel Embiid

News: The 2017 ESPYSDuring the weeks leading up to TNT awards show in late June, one of the biggest mysteries was whether Sixers big man Joel Embiid would be named Rookie of the Year despite playing in just 31 games. Embiid clearly posted the biggest numbers and displayed more talent than any other first-year player in his limited body of work.

Ultimately, voters decided Embiid didn’t play in enough games and handed the prize to Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon.

The Sixers have an even bigger decision to make — does 31 games in three seasons equate to a max contract extension or something close to it?

That’s the biggest dilemma currently hovering over the team’s management, as it must determine what approach to take with the oft-injured Embiid. Virtually from the instant he finally took the court, Embiid essentially removed all debate over which of the three power forward/centers the Sixers invested high draft picks on in recent seasons — Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor — was the best of the trio.

Embiid averaged 20.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 2.5 BPG in those outings, even though the Sixers were being cautious about his minutes. In ESPN’s Player Efficiency Rating, Embiid finished fifth among all centers. Embiid, whose career was stalled two full seasons by right foot ailments, still suffered another significant injury.

He was shut down at the beginning of March with torn meniscus and a bone bruise in his left knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery later that month and has reached the point in his recovery where he’s doing non-contract drills. He’s expected to be ready for training camp and GM Bryan Colangelo has said that he anticipates Embiid will be able to play back-to-backs this season.

With all the time Embiid has spent in the trainer’s room, it would be reasonable to assume that Sixers management would be reluctant to make a long-term commitment to him. Think again. Josh Harris, the team’s managing owner, told reporters in late June he’s focused on locking up Embiid before the October 31 extension deadline.

“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris said at the time. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”

How much would Harris and the rest of the ownership group have to fork over to max out Embiid? The current projection for a five-year max would be $147.9MM, while a four-year commitment would entail $114.24MM in resources.

If the Sixers could have any reasonable expectation that Embiid will stay in one piece for a majority of the next five or six seasons, the investment would pay off handsomely. With a core trio of point guard and top overall pick Markelle Fultz, point forward and 2016 top pick Ben Simmons and Embiid, Philadelphia projects to be one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams during that stretch.

It’s hard to think that way with the injury issues that Embiid has endured since the tail end of his brief collegiate career at Kansas. Embiid missed the NCAA Tournament as a freshman with a back injury, then underwent his first foot surgery a week before Philadelphia selected him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014.

It’s been a long and ongoing process to get Embiid, who will make $6.1MM in the upcoming season, on the court since that point. If the Sixers decide to play it a little more cautiously, they could forego an extension to see how his health holds up and then extend a qualifying offer of $8MM next summer to make him a restricted free agent. Taking that approach would also allow the Sixers to see how Embiid’s talents blend with Fultz and Simmons.

The Sixers would then have the option of matching any offer sheet but would also risk the possibility of Embiid gambling on his future and signing the qualifying offer. That would allow him to be unrestricted the following summer.

A more likely scenario is that the Sixers offer Embiid a max extension, or something very close to it, but insist on contractual protections in case his major injury problems persist. The easiest way to do that would be to purchase disability insurance on Embiid but as ESPN’s Bobby Marks pointed out this spring, the Sixers probably won’t have that option due to his injury history.

Instead, as Marks suggested, Philadelphia could follow the approach the Nets took when they re-signed another injury-riddled center, Brook Lopez. Under the multi-year terms of that deal, Brooklyn’s contractual obligations would have been cut in half during the second year and down to 25% in the third year if Lopez had re-injured his right foot and wound up playing fewer than 60 games and averaging less than 15 minutes. The Sixers and Embiid’s representatives could hash out similar minimums in terms of games and minutes played.

If the Sixers take that route, negotiations on an extension could get very sticky and go down to the wire. Should Embiid agree to such a deal, he’d once again be gambling on his health while allowing the club to hedge its bets. Philadelphia also has to be careful not to risk alienating a player who could be a perennial All-Star for years to come.

That’s what makes Embiid’s potential contract extension one of the league’s most intriguing storylines right through training camp. He is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward Extension Candidate.

Community Shootaround: Joel Embiid Extension

Although he hasn’t yet been cleared for contact drills or 5-on-5 play, Joel Embiid expects to be ready in time to break camp with the Sixers this fall, whether or not he’ll have his contract extended before he returns or not, is another question.

Shortly after the June 22 draft, Sixers’ managing owner Josh Harris spoke about how committed he was to keeping the current Philadelphia squad together. One way of doing so could come in the form of a five-year, roughly $130MM contract extension.

Such a deal would begin in 2018/19 after Embiid plays out the final year of his rookie deal (worth $6.1MM) but would need to be agreed upon prior to opening day on October 17.

Another option the Sixers have is to let Embiid play through the 2017/18 campaign and then extend him a qualifying offer worth $8MM next offseason. That would make the then-24-year-old a restricted free agent.

There’s little doubt that an undeniably healthy Embiid would be worth a max contract extension as soon as possible but the big man has missed 215 of the 246 games the Sixers have played since they drafted him.

What then, is he worth now, considering that an element of uncertainty looms over what we can reasonably expect in the future? You tell us.

Are the Sixers better off to see how the 2017/18 season unfolds before they commit to Embiid long-term? Or would they benefit from locking the big man in at some point before mid-October. If you were at the helm of Philly’s front office, what would you look to do?

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Embiid, Tatum

If you ask Carmelo Anthony, there hasn’t been a breakdown of communication between him and the Knicks. In fact, the forward says, the team’s front office knows exactly what he’s looking for and how he feels. Marc Berman of the New York Post breaks down the latest in the ongoing saga.

Put simply, Anthony would like to be traded to the Rockets and has a powerful no-trade clause that he can wave around until he gets there. The Knicks, however, don’t see a deal worth pulling the trigger on.

Despite the standstill, Anthony remains hopeful. “I’m very optimistic. I’ve had great conversations with new [Knicks] GM Scott Perry,” he says. “He understands my mindset, where I’m at. My career right now, what I’m looking for.

Whether or not that will translate into a trade to Houston, however, remains to be seen.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • According to Jayson Tatum himself, the Celtics intended to draft him all along, even prior to trading down from No. 1 to No. 3 ahead of the June 22 draft. Tatum explained as much on a recent podcast. The Sixers, he says, were under the assumption that Boston was looking at Markelle Fultz with the top pick.
  • While he hasn’t been cleared to play 5-on-5, Sixers big man Joel Embiid is doing non-contact drills and expects to be ready for training camp, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets.
  • Offseason signee Daniel Theis could bring energy on the glass and defensive versatility to the Celtics, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes in a profile piece on the German forward.
  • After a solid first campaign, Ron Baker is back with the Knicks on a far more lucrative contract. Barbara Barker of Newsday writes that head coach Jeff Hornacek continues to see parallels between himself and his undrafted role player. “I may not have been the fastest guy or the strongest guy or the highest jumper. But I did things that the coach wanted to see. I got the ball to the star guys. Ron came in doing the same thing and that’s what made him earn minutes with us,” the coach said.

Brogdon Wins Rookie Of Year Award

Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon was named the league’s Rookie of the Year, which was announced on the TNT awards show Monday night.

Brogdon, a second-round pick, edged out a pair of Sixers Joel Embiid and Dario Saric — in the voting. The 36th overall pick last summer appeared in 75 regular-season games and started 28. He averaged 10.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 4.2 APG in 26.4 MPG. He also shot 40.4% from long range.

Embiid posted much bigger stats — 20.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG — but only appeared in 31 games.

A majority of the Hoops Rumors staff selected Brogdon as their choice for the award. He is the first non-lottery pick to win the award since Mark Jackson in 1988.

Brogdon, Saric Headline 2016/17 NBA All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has announced its All-Rookie teams for the 2016/17 season, with Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon and Sixers forward Dario Saric headlining the First Team. Brogdon and Saric were the only two players who were unanimously named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team.

Here’s the full breakdown of this year’s All-Rookie squads:

First Team:

Second Team:

Brogdon, Saric, and Embiid are the finalists for the 2016/17 NBA Rookie of the Year award, which will be announced later tonight during the league’s TV broadcast on TNT.

Sixers ‘Focused’ On Extension For Joel Embiid

One of the Sixers’ offseason priorities will be a contract extension for center Joel Embiid, relays Tom Moore of The Bucks County Courier Times.

Josh Harris, the team’s managing owner, addressed the topic after Friday’s news conference to introduce Philadelphia’s four new draftees. He said the front office is “focused on it.”

“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris told reporters. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”

After missing his first two seasons with injuries, Embiid made a huge impact in limited time this year. Although he played just 31 games, and averaged 25.4 minutes per night, Embiid gave the Sixers 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. He is one of three finalists for Rookie of the Year honors.

Heading into his fourth professional season, Embiid will be eligible for an extension to his rookie contract from July 1st until the day before the Sixers’ season opener in October. The extension would take effect in 2018/19 and could be worth up to $130MM over five years or $100MM for four years.
If an extension can’t be worked out, Philadelphia could make Embiid a restricted free agent next summer by submitting a qualifying offer of $8MM. That means the Sixers could match any offer he receives from another team.
Moore notes that Embiid refused to answer a question last month about his interest in an extension.

Community Shootaround: Potential 76ers Big Three

Even if your mother always warned you not to get ahead of yourself, let’s get ahead of ourselves anyway. After all, Coach Klein did teach Bobby Boucher in The Waterboy that “what Mama don’t know, won’t hurt her.”

Classic movies from 1998 aside, the 76ers are reportedly close to trading for the Celtics‘ No. 1 overall pick in next week’s draft. If completed, Philly would very likely select Markelle Fultz, the tantalizing University of Washington freshman with major upside. Can you imagine Fultz on the court with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? The Sixers could boast three of the most promising young players in the NBA. Fultz is 19 years old, Simmons is 20, and Embiid is 23. Lest we forget, Philly also possesses promising 23-year-olds Dario Saric and Richaun Holmes on its youthful roster.

If Fultz’s workout with the Sixers (scheduled for 6 PM Eastern Time Saturday night) goes as well as expected, the trade could soon be finalized, and 76ers fans could witness their fantasy coming true of a Fultz-Simmons-Embiid big (and young) three. Today’s discussion question is: assuming the trade is completed and the Sixers wind up with Fultz, how special can this trio be together? What kind of obstacles do you expect them to face? If Brett Brown still elects to play Simmons at point guard, would that mostly help or hurt Fultz’s development on the court?

We’d love to hear your insight in the comment section.

Sixers Notes: Fultz, Ball, Embiid, Simmons, Korkmaz

With the No. 3 pick in this month’s draft, the Sixers aren’t overly likely to have a chance to draft either Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t doing its due diligence on those top prospects. President of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo told reporters today, including Derek Bodner (Twitter link) that they’ve talked to Fultz’s reps about the possibility of working him out, though it seems like he may only audition for the Celtics.

Meanwhile, Colangelo said the Sixers haven’t yet met with Ball, but would still like to do so, as Jessica Camerato of tweets. With the exception of those two point guards, Philadelphia has workouts lined up for all of this year’s top prospects, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • According to Colangelo, the Sixers have their eye on six or seven prospects with the No. 3 overall pick (Twitter link via Bodner). In addition to Fultz and Ball, I’d imagine guys like De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson, and Malik Monk are under consideration.
  • Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons won’t participate in Summer League play for the Sixers, Colangelo confirmed today (Twitter link via Bodner). Both players are coming off season-ending injuries, so it seems the team will take it slow and look to get them ready for the fall.
  • 2016 first-round pick Furkan Korkmaz, a draft-and-stash prospect, may play for the Sixers in the Summer League, depending on his international commitments (Twitter link via Bodner). For now, Korkmaz is traveling to Philadelphia to visit the Sixers and work out with some of the club’s players, per Pompey (Twitter link). The young shooting guard wants to come stateside for the 2017/18 season, but has a pricey buyout – $2MM, according to David Pick – and the 76ers may want to stash him for a little while longer.
  • Tyler Cavanaugh (George Washington), Derrick White (Colorado), Tahjere McCall (Tennessee State), Isaiah Briscoe (Kentucky), Reggie Upshaw Jr. (Middle Tennessee State), and Melo Trimble (Maryland) worked out today for the Sixers, as Pompey writes for The Inquirer.

NBA Reveals Award Finalists

The NBA is in the process of revealing its finalists for each of the major year-end awards on TNT, the winners of which will be announced at the official award show on June 26.

Below is an ongoing list that we’ll update as the NBA on TNT crew reveals more.

Most Improved Player of the Year
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Rudy Gobert
Nikola Jokic

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP

Sixth Man of the Year
Eric Gordon
Andre Iguodala
Lou Williams

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man

Rookie of the Year
Malcolm Brogdon
Joel Embiid
Dario Saric

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY

Coach of the Year
Mike D’Antoni
Gregg Popovich
Erik Spoelstra

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COTY

Defensive Player of the Year
Rudy Gobert
Draymond Green
Kawhi Leonard

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY

Most Valuable Player of the Year
James Harden
Kawhi Leonard
Russell Westbrook

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Insurance Could Be Issue For Embiid’s Next Deal

The Sixers are unlikely to secure disability insurance on center Joel Embiid if they sign him to a long-term deal, according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Embiid’s pro career was stalled for two seasons by right foot ailments and his 2016/17 campaign was limited to 31 games by a left knee injury. He’s still a prime candidate for the Rookie of the Year award after averaging 20.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 2.5 BPG when he was able to take the court.

Embiid is eligible for a rookie extension this summer and Marks suggests that Philadelphia should follow the Nets’ lead on the sticky insurance issue. Under the multi-year terms that Brooklyn stipulated when re-signing center Brook Lopez, its contractual obligations would have been cut in half in the second year and down to 25% in the third year if Lopez had re-injured his right foot and wound up playing fewer than 60 games and averaged less than 15 minutes. Marks suggests the Sixers should wait until next summer and see if Embiid can play regularly next season. Embiid, who will make $6.1MM in the 2017/18 season, becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2018.

There are built-in risks if the Sixers take a wait-and-see approach with Embiid. He could opt to sign his qualifying offer of $8MM and become an unrestricted free agent the following summer. He could also sign a monster offer sheet from another team willing to risk the possibility of Embiid suffering a major injury setback with any contractual protections like the Lopez deal.

Philadelphia appears optimistic that Embiid will be ready to go next season and GM Bryan Colangelo said recently he expects Embiid’s body will hold up on back-to-backs. Embiid underwent arthroscopic knee surgery late last month.

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