The 76ers' decision to sign Joel Embiid to a five-year, $148 million maximum contract extension raised some eye brows. Embiid's talent isn't in question—he's displayed the type of transcendent talent that transforms franchises—but his health is.
After being selected third overall in the 2014 draft, Embiid missed his first two seasons with a broken bone in his foot, and he played just 31 games last season before he was shut down after tearing the meniscus in his left knee. He's shown that he's certainly a max player when he's on the court, but making that sort of financial commitment to an injury-prone big man is a risk indeed.
It seems Philadelphia wrote the contract with the 23-year-old's injury history in mind. According to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Embiid's deal includes provisions that would allow the 76ers to cut Embiid and save money if he misses significant time due to specific injuries.
Wojnarowski reports that Philadelphia's financial protections only come in to play if Embiid misses at least 25 games or plays less 1,650 minutes in a single season due to injuries to his foot or back, parts of the body that Embiid has already struggled with. If Embiid misses time with a "new" injury, such as one to his knee or shoulder, the financial provisions do not apply.
If, however, Embiid does miss more than 25 games or play less than 1,650 with a recurring injury, the 76ers can cut him and save money. If they cut him after the 2018-19 season (the first year the new contract goes into affect), Embiid will earn a total of $84.2 million (all figures per Wojnarowski); if they cut him after the 2019-20 season, he'll earn $98.2 million of the original deal; if he's cut after the 2020-21 season, Embiid will earn $113.3 million; and if he's cut after the 2021-22 season, he will earn $129.4 million. The contract expires after the 2022-23 season.
Also noteworthy from Wojnarowski's report is that Embiid could make himself significantly more money with a tremendous 2017-2018 season. If Embiid were to make the All-NBA First Team or be named league MVP, he'd be eligible for a "supermax" deal, which would pay him $176 million.
Embiid hasn't played in any of the 76ers' preseason games, but he's expected to play Wednesday at the Nets.
Philadelphia opens the regular season at Washington on Oct. 18.