Blogtable: Wise or risky move by Philadelphia 76ers to sign Joel Embiid to contract extension?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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The Sixers have signed Joel Embiid to a lucrative contract extension, even though Embiid has played in only 31 games so far in his career. Wise move, or risky move?
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David Aldridge: It’s a risk, but really, what choice did Philly have? If the assumption of the team’s medical staff is that Embiid should have a relatively normal career going forward, the Sixers had to come correct with the loot. He showed when he was on the court last season that he’s a game changer, an elite talent. If Philly had hemmed and hawed, believe me–his agents would have gotten him to unrestricted free agency in 2019.
Steve Aschburner: Risky move, of course. Inevitable move too, though, given the Sixers’ positioning of Embiid as the cornerstone player of “The Process.” If guaranteeing Embiid all or most of that dough only to have him get hurt again (and again?) during the term of the contract would be a bad outcome, losing him to free agency and watching him develop into a happy and healthy dominant star elsewhere would be worse. Philadelphia has made it clear — it is all-in on Embiid — and this simply is a cost of doing high-stakes business.
Shaun Powell: This reminds me of Stephen Curry’s first contract extension — not the same amount of money, of course, but the same risk for each side. The Warriors won that gamble because Curry’s ankles held up, but it could’ve gone the other way. Here, the Sixers are protecting themselves from Embiid staying healthy and dominant and then becoming a load in free agency next summer. Embiid is getting his money now, even if he limps off the court again. Win-win.
John Schuhmann: We’ve never seen anything like Embiid, a guy that has played so little, but has showed us so much. He’s transcendent. He has size and skill, along with as the body control and instincts of somebody who’s been playing basketball for a lot longer than he has. If he’s healthy, he’s obviously worth the money. But while the Sixers have put clauses in the contract that allow them to get out of it if he reinjures his feet or his back, you just never know what’s going to happen. Ask this question again in 3-4 years.
Sekou Smith: Can it be both? It’s certainly risky to reward Embiid like this after such a short sample size of his work. But given the investment the Sixers have already made in Embiid and the patience they’ve shown, they have to be prepared to reap the benefits of what could be his very best years to come. And that’s definitely a wise move for a franchise poised for a significant turnaround with a talented young core in place. If Embiid can stay healthy and be dominant over sustained stretches, no one will fret about this contract. It’ll be viewed simply as the cost of doing superstar business in today’s NBA. If Embiid’s injury issues persist, however, the risks the Sixers have taken to endure “The Process” will no doubt dominate the conversation.
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