Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid signed a huge contract extension despite the fact that he has an extensive injury history and has played in just 31 NBA games.
Adrian Wojnarowski indicates Embiid has contract incentives based on whether he makes All-NBA teams or wins the Most Valuable Player award. The report also mentions that the contract includes language that offers Philadelphia some kind of reassurance in case Embiid suffers more injury setbacks (via ESPN):
“The deal will include some salary-cap protection for the 76ers should Embiid suffer injury that causes him to miss significant playing time, league sources said.”
As a way to protect the front office from spending surplus money on a player who may be sidelined for a prolonged period due to his prior health issues, the teams could have included several clauses in the contract.
If the organization decided to factor this into the equation, they may have used a contract model similar to what the Nets once offered Brook Lopez.
According to NBA insider Bobby Marks, the front office in Brooklyn was concerned about offering Lopez big money if he was going to have any of the same lingering problems from the 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons (via ESPN):
“What the Nets and Lopez agreed upon was a three-year, $64 million contract that guaranteed $19.7 million in the first year but included protection language that would reduce compensation in years 2 (50 percent) and 3 (25 percent) if Lopez were to injure the same right foot, not appear on the active roster for 62 games and average fewer than 15 MPG in 2015-16.”
Marks predicted that if Embiid were to fail to appear on the 76ers’ active roster for “fewer than 51 games” during the 2018-19 season, Philadelphia could “reduce the remaining compensation owed” to 50 percent in each year of the deal.
We don’t know yet the actual figures of what Embiid and the front office decided. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports originally reported that the deal contains a 50 percent guarantee, though this post was since deleted.
However, this means that an unhealthy Embiid would make $74 million on a five-year deal. This would be $14.8 million per year, less than the $16 million that Brooklyn will annually pay fellow big man Timofey Mozgov.
Of course, Embiid has one of the highest ceilings and potential for players at his position in the NBA. We can expect, based on a tweet from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the deal to be complicated.
If he can stay healthy and effective, it will be well worth it for both parties. If not, it seems Philadelphia likely has a method in place to avoid huge risk.