Certain teams face difficult decisions over the coming weeks: whether or not to sign prospective restricted free agents to long-term extensions before the league-imposed deadline at the start of the 2017-18 regular season. If these franchises choose to pass, they will be forced to haggle with players’ agents next offseason; feelings could get hurt, offers sheets could be signed and overall, the circumstances get a bit stickier. We explore these situations in depth.
Today: Joel Embiid
Why would Philadelphia extend Embiid?
Joel Embiid is a legit seven-footer who can do a bit of everything. His mixture of brute strength, dexterity and athleticism is extremely rare, even in today’s freakazoid NBA.
The big man shot 36.7 percent from three last season while dishing out 2.1 assists per game – the 14th-highest mark among centers.
Overall, Embiid averaged 20.2 points per contest, to go with 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks nightly.
Small sample (tiny, actually, as Embiid only suited up in 31 games during 2016-17), but the Sixers center is one of just seven players in league history to drop at least 20.0 points and 2.4 blocks per night during their rookie campaigns.
Aside from Anthony Davis, every other player on that list is currently in the Hall of Fame.
Needless to say, Embiid enjoyed an electric start to his career.
Why would Philadelphia pass on extending Embiid?
Since going No. 3 overall in the 2014 draft, Embiid has appeared in just 31 games throughout his career – all during the 2016-17 season.
A plethora of maladies have affected his right foot, forcing him to miss the entirety of his first two campaigns.
Is a 31-game sample size enough to warrant a huge long-term commitment?
Big men with foot problems often have difficulties ever becoming fully healthy. Most recently, Yao Ming faced somewhat similar foot troubles, and he eventually had to retire due to them.
Embiid is far younger than Ming was at that point, but regardless, the point stands.
Not to mention, at the recent Sixers media day, both head coach Brett Brown and team president Bryan Colangelo refused to dismiss the notion of Embiid being on a minutes restriction during the 2017-18 season. In fact, they told reporters that their budding young star hadn’t even be cleared for full contact yet. Yikes.
Can Embiid eventually beat the odds and prove to be an exception to the rule regarding NBA big men with injury concerns?
What deal makes sense for both parties?
Nevertheless, at media day, Colangelo also said he was hopeful that his team could come to terms with Embiid on an extension.
Makes sense; after all, on-court production isn’t the problem for the Sixers center. The issue is whether or not Philadelphia thinks he can stay healthy.
Our final verdict?
Under the circumstances and based on his body of work, a four-year, $80 million contract would be fairest.
Philadelphia would get a generational talent locked up long-term, but at far under the max salary that some of his counterparts are getting.
And Embiid would get a sense of security with the four-year deal, as well as a boatload of money.