Bryan Colangelo

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

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.

Markelle Fultz already showing he's no ordinary No. 1 overall pick

Markelle Fultz already showing he's no ordinary No. 1 overall pick

CAMDEN, N.J. — The life of a No. 1 overall pick can get pretty hectic, particularly during the summer heading into their first season.

Getting acclimated to a new city, making appearances, signing endorsement deals, etc. The list goes on forever.

Unless that top pick is Markelle Fultz.

“I did a lot of basketball stuff, just traveling around for basketball purposes,” Fultz said of his summer during Sixers media day. “Of course being the No. 1 pick, a lot of stuff comes along with that."

“I just recently went back to Seattle to hang out with some of my college friends, but other than that, getting in the gym has been the most fun thing for me.”

If there is one thing to know about Fultz so far, it’s that he is constantly working to hone his craft.

Put aside the left ankle sprain he suffered in the Las Vegas Summer League that forced him to spend some time healing up and the 19-year-old spent virtually the entire offseason on the court.

“My summer’s pretty much just been of course rehab for my ankle, which is way better now,” said Fultz, who averaged 16.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in three summer league games before the injury. “Just learning the plays and just learning my teammates. Really just enjoying this process, having fun and getting ready.

“I stay in the gym 24/7. Even at home, I’m fortunate enough to have a basketball court outside. Just staying around the game, just playing, shooting trick shots as a lot of people know I like doing. Like I said, just trying to learn the plays to the best of my ability so I can be ready for the season.”

Fultz’s gym-rat mentality combined with his skill set is what ultimately made Sixers president Bryan Colangelo feel comfortable enough to send the No. 3 pick and a protected first-round pick to the Boston Celtics to move up to the top of the draft.

“We felt that that decision was the right one at the time and it’s the right one now,” Colangelo said of the deal. “Markelle is a tremendous young talent. He’s got a high ceiling. He’s very young, but certainly someone that we’re excited to have in the fold with our young core of players that we’ve been bringing together.”

While Fultz certainly fits into the team’s mold of recent selections, it’s how he meshes with previous No. 1 overall pick, Ben Simmons, that could ultimately decide how successful he is in Philadelphia.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown has made clear his desire to use the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Simmons as the squad’s primary point guard. That means Fultz will get moved to shooting guard, a change he views as a plus and not a problem.

“I think I’ll be comfortable with it. My main goal is just to do whatever I have to do to help the team win and if that’s me playing on and off the ball, that’s what I’m willing to do,” Fultz said. “I think the success is going to be high really just because it’s going to throw teams off. You don’t know who’s bringing it up, who’s going to get it. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Never lacking in confidence, Fultz reiterated on several occasions that his backcourt partnership with Simmons would work and that the Sixers would reach the postseason.

When you put in the tireless work on the court like Fultz does, you expect results.

“My first goal is always team first and myself, I always have to keep my confidence high,” he said. “In order to be great, I set high goals for myself so that I can achieve them.

“It’s not only my mindset. You ask any of my teammates, they’re going to say the same thing — it’s getting back to the playoffs, that we’re going to make it. Really it’s just the way I believe, the way I think. That’s the way you have to think in order to change things around. In order to be successful, you can’t think that you’re not going to make it. Your chances of doing that are going to be low, so you have to believe it in order to do it.”

Joel Embiid sets realistic expectations for season as contract situation lurks

Joel Embiid sets realistic expectations for season as contract situation lurks

CAMDEN, N.J. — In Joel Embiid’s ideal situation, he would play 48 minutes in all 82 games.

His reality is different than that, however. As he works his way back from left knee surgery, he understands he won’t be on the court as much as he would like. 

“If I could play 82 games, I would,” Embiid said Monday at Sixers media day. “But I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ll play 82 games. That’s not happening … I’m just focused on my path to being back on the court.” 

Embiid underwent a procedure in late March to repair a torn meniscus, ending his standout rookie year after just 31 games. He has not been cleared for 5-on-5 and it remains to be seen if he will compete in any preseason contests. 

Embiid said if the Sixers were in a Game 7 of the NBA Finals situation, he would play. But they’re not. Their push for a playoff berth is just beginning. 

“I think the timetable, we’ve been focusing on the first game of the season,” Embiid said of the Sixers' Oct. 18 opener against the Wizards. “We’ve got a couple preseason games, might play in those. But if I’m not 100 percent, they’re not going to put me out there. It’s not just about rehabbing. It’s also about being in the best shape possible, which I’m not yet at that level.” 

Embiid has undergone multiple scans since his surgery and said of the results, “Everything looks perfect.” Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said the recent scans showed the joint to be “intact and structurally sound.” The Sixers expect Embiid to participate in drills during training camp. 

“All in all, I believe our medical team feels good about where things are,” Colangelo said. 

Embiid is honed in on improving and maintaining his health by working on his landings to avoid further injuries. He threw his 7-foot-2, 250-pound frame around the court last season, including flying out of bounds into the stands. 

“I fell a lot last year,” he said. “I think it was also because I was flopping.” 

The uncertainty of Embiid’s health during training camp likely will factor into an important decision that has to be made in only a few weeks. The Sixers and Embiid have until Oct. 16 to sign a contract extension. 

“I still remain cautiously optimistic that something could get done,” Colangelo said. “That’s not to say it will, but I’m cautiously optimistic that remains a possibility.” 

Embiid firmly debunked a report by 94WIP's Howard Eskin he has not been participating in 5-on-5 because a deal had not been reached. He noted his love for the game and how difficult it is to get him off the court, let alone him refusing to get on it at all. 

“No,” Embiid said, chalking the report up to starting controversy. “At the end of the day, I don’t have the leverage. I’m going into my fourth season and I’m going to be a restricted free agent, so there’s no leverage, they can do whatever they want. There’s been discussions about it. Hopefully, something does work out. 

“I’m worried about getting back on the court and that’s all I care about. If it happens, it’s going to happen. If it doesn’t, just got to keep focused on the fourth season and after this year I’ll be a free agent and we’re going to see what comes of it.” 

Training camp begins Tuesday, when Embiid will have the opportunity to return to basketball with his teammates, even if it is in a limited and closely-monitored role. 

"I've got to check a couple boxes before my first game of the season," he said. "That's what I intend to do."