31 Games, $148 million: Joel Embiid Signs Huge Deal With Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid signed a rookie max extension for five years worth $148 million dollars. The injury-plagued 7-footer played just 31 games during his first three years in the league, but that didn’t stop Philly from rolling the dice on Embiid.

The Cameroonian “rookie” missed the entirety of his first two seasons with the Sixers a broken right foot and an injury in February — just four months after he made his NBA debut — limited him to just 31 games last season. That said, Embiid is a problem when he’s healthy.

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The 76ers’ front office saw enough during the four months that Embiid did play to get out their checkbook. As LeBron begins to grow long in the tooth, and perhaps leaves Cleveland and the entire Eastern Conference behind, a young Philadelphia squad with an embarrassment of riches — Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric — has positioned itself to be a playoff contender for years to come.

The price of amassing that young core was high. The Sixers paid in blood. They haven’t won more than 34 games in a season in five years. They went 28 and 54 last year, 10 and 72 the year before that, 18 and 64 three years ago, 19 and 63 four years ago — you get the idea.

They’ve been so bad that the league literally changed how the NBA Draft works to prevent teams from tanking to get high draft picks, not that any other franchise would have the audacity to burn four or five years to stockpile draft picks.

If he can stay healthy, Embiid has the potential to be the most dominant center in the league, and he plays in a league with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. When the 76ers play the New Orleans Pelicans on December 10th, the thee best big men on the league will be on the same court at the same time. Mark your calendars.