Sixers prioritizing extension for Joel Embiid is a must

The Sixers are flush with cap space, but in the coming years, they will be pulled in multiple directions on how to use it.

One of the bigger questions surrounding the Sixers is what to do with star center Joel Embiid. When on the court, Embiid is one of the most effective big men in the NBA as shown by him averaging 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. The issue is that Embiid only played 31 games all season due to injuries.

Embiid’s transcendent talent puts the Sixers between a rock and a hard place. They could wait out the season and extend a qualifying offer of eight million making Embiid a restricted free agent. The pros to that are that the Sixers could wait to see if Embiid can make it through the season healthy but the market waits for no one.

If the Sixers wait and see, the only way that they’d likely be able to secure Embiid’s talent for the long haul is by signing him to a max extension. Since he’s only 22, teams will come calling if Embiid is on the open market.

The flip side of the coin is that the Sixers can look to extend embed this offseason keeping their long-term payroll flexibility for extensions to Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, and free agent acquisitions. It’s a risky proposition because the team will be relying on 31 games of data but they could also look to buy at a discount inking Embiid to a team friendly deal.

According to Tom Moore of the Courier Times, the Sixers plan to take the latter route. In talking to the team’s managing owner Josh Harris, Moore was able to discuss Embiid and contract details.

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

Embiid brings a lot to the team both in terms of play and marketability making him perfect to build a team around, if he can stay healthy. Moore outlines two potential contracts below:

  • 130 million dollars spread over five years (average annual value of 26 million dollars)
  • 100 million dollars spread over four years (average annual value of 25 million dollars)

Either extension would begin with the 2018/19 season and run through the 2022 or 2023 season.  Embiid declined to discuss the extension when asked by Moore on May 16th but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t movement behind the scenes.

It makes sense for the Sixers to move quickly on an extension because it could alter how they attack free agency. If Embiid is locked up long term, the Sixers may be able to frontload a contract for Patty Mills or a similar player who fits the system. It is easier to get an NBA player to take a front-loaded deal like that if there is proper reasoning to it.

Preserving flexibility for the Sixers to keep their star while also adding through free agency in the future should be a good enough reason for the team to be able to convince someone to take a front loaded contract.

Embiid could secure the Rookie of the Year award on Monday despite him only playing 31 games. It would be the fewest games ever played by a recipient of the award but at this point, the Sixers need to bet on him playing more in seasons to come. Extending Embiid is a key to the process and even with the potential drawbacks, it must be done.

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