Joel Embiid just signed the richest contract in Philadelphia 76ers history

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

And just like that, the Philadelphia 76ers have made their intentions clear: Joel Embiid is their franchise player.

That’s right, after months of lowkey wondering what would come next for Embiid, who became eligible for a contract extension during the 2020-21 NBA season, the Sixers have made their intentions known and their futures set, giving the superstar center a four-year, $196 million super-max contract that will keep him under contract through the 2026-27 NBA season.

Is that a lot of money to pay out to any player, especially an injury-prone center who hasn’t played a full season in his career? Eh, some will make that assertion, even if it’s vastly overblown, but clearly, the Sixers front office doesn’t prescribe to that theory, as the team gave Embiid – who represented himself in negotiations – a full-on, fully-guaranteed max contract without so much as a team option just in case.

Philadelphia 76ers fans, meet the proud owner of the richest contract in franchise history. *spoiler alert* you already know and love him.

Joel Embiid is the Philadelphia 76ers’ present and future.

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As crazy as it may be now, there was a time when no one was really sure if Joel Embiid would ever take the court for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Mind you, the franchise wanted desperately to see the player they invested in with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft on the court dominating like he did at the University of Kansas; it just felt like one setback after another both on and off the court.

From a pre-draft surgery on his navicular bone that cost the entirety of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons to the incredibly tragic death of his brother Arthur back in Cameroon, Embiid’s NBA career suffered more setbacks before he took the court than most players have to experience in 15 years without any guarantee of a light at the end fo the tunnel.

Fortunately, all of Embiid’s efforts, anticipation, and waiting ultimately paid off, as he was cleared to go for the start of the 2016-17 NBA season and came out of the gates as hot as a Shaquille O’Neal with the Magic back in 1992… until he suffered a bone bruise 31 games into his rookie campaign that ultimately required surgery.

From there, Embiid turned in increasingly impressive campaigns as his career went on and near-single-handedly transformed the Sixers into a legitimate playoff contender after years of losing intentionally to land All-Star caliber talent.

Embiid made his first All-Star game in 2018 and has been a fixture of the game in every season since.

While one could argue about the talent the Sixers front office have put around Embiid during his tenure with the team, as the front office has never built a roster specifically tailored around his unique style of play, it’s virtually impossible to say Sam Hinkie made the wrong call at the top of the 2014 NFL Draft, let alone standing pat when the Sacramento Kings came calling looking to make a trade.

And by giving Embiid the richest contract in Sixers history, the team has made their intentions clear: Joel Embiid is the team’s present and future, and thus, they are fully committed to winning with him as their focal point.

Fun fact: Do you know who previously held the record for the richest contract in Philadelphia 76ers history? That’d be Tobias Harris, who signed a five-year, $180 million contract in 2019.

Now granted, would Embiid have turned down $196 million in fully guaranteed money if he didn’t think the Sixers were fully committed to fortifying their roster with better-fitting talent? Honestly, I highly doubt it. $196 million is beyond generational wealth, and Embiid will only be 35 when his contract is over. If he really wants to try to hustle for a ring in the twilight of his career Carmelo Anthony-style, he’ll surely have that opportunity if his body hasn’t completely betrayed him.

But frankly, I don’t think Embiid agreed to this deal with an eye on life after Philly. No, it would appear he just signed away the remainder of his prime and then some for an AAV of $49 million because he wants to see the Sixers win a championship as much as the fans at home and will do everything in his power to make that happen.

In a league where players are all too frequently open to leaving a team behind for immediate success in a marquee market, Embiid’s love of our fair city is right up there with Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s admiration for the people of Milwaukee.

Hmm… how did that one work out for the Bucks?

Next. A trade for Rajon Rondo isn’t as crazy as it sounds. dark

With their best player now locked in for the next half-decade-plus, the real work begins for the Philadelphia 76ers. They need to further fortify their roster using a soon-to-be-expiring trade exception, figure out what to do about Charles Bassey’s contract, and, I don’t know, figure out what they are going to do about getting a second legitimate superstar on their roster. But for today? Today Daryl Morey, Elton Brand, and the rest of the front office can sit back, cheers, and celebrate that they just signed Joel Embiid, the best center in the NBA, to a contract Sam Hinkie could have only dreamed of when he selected him third all those years ago. Boy, talk about trusting the process!