76ers

Mammoth payday next chapter in Joel Embiid's 'incredible story'

BOSTON — Joel Embiid hopes his five-year contract extension is the first step in playing his entire career on the Sixers.

He used words like “thrilled,” “happy” and “amazed” to describe the feeling of inking the $148 million long-term deal to be in Philadelphia.

“I want to be here my whole career,” Embiid said Tuesday.

The extension, finalized on Tuesday, has been in the works for months. The Sixers began discussions on July 1, the first day they could engage in such conversations. The team reached out to Embiid and his agent before they contacted JJ Redick, who they quickly inked in free agency.

“He’s one of these types that don’t come along often,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said. “We’re talking about both what he does on the court but what he also does off the court ... to have him locked up for the foreseeable future, it really feels good.”

The Sixers had until Oct. 16 to sign the extension or the big man would have become a restricted free agent after the season. It could have been a tricky cutoff given the fact Embiid has played in only 31 games over three seasons and not one since his knee surgery in March.

Colangelo said the Sixers had seen enough from Embiid to offer the extension a week before the deadline. They took into account all the work he has put in over his career, not just the small handful of games. With it being such a massive investment, the Sixers did include protections in the deal.

“I don’t want to really discuss the terms of the deal, but it’s safe to say there are protections in place in the event of significant injury,” Colangelo said. “I would term it shared risk. I talk about finding the common ground. We have found the common ground. I finally anticipate and hope that we’re paying the entirety of the contract.”

This contract is a whirlwind for Embiid considering he didn’t begin playing basketball until 2011. He battled through two years of serious injuries and thought about quitting after losing his brother in 2014. Now, he is one of the leaders of an NBA franchise at only 23 years old, on track to become an All-Star, and has the potential to be one of the most dominant big men in the game. Last season, he averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a rookie.

"I'm thrilled for him," Brett Brown said. "To endure what he has endured and to be rewarded as he just now has been rewarded, that's an incredible story.

"From the franchise standpoint, to feel like you have something that talented and really somebody that has only scratched the surface of what he can be, locked up with us for a while just validates the reason we put ourselves on this journey four years ago when you can now say here is an example of us reaping the benefit of that sort of strategy."

Embiid acknowledged the support of the Sixers, including Brown, Colangelo, former general manager Sam Hinkie and the ownership. He also gave a special thank you to the fans (see story).

“I’m in an amazing position,” Embiid said. “It just shows you how much the team trusts me. I can’t wait to go out there and play, especially for the city of Philadelphia.”

Embiid is probable to make his preseason debut on Wednesday when the Sixers face the Nets on Long Island.