Injuries were a big concern for Philadelphia 76ers superstar center Joel Embiid early in his career. The big man missed his first two seasons after he was drafted in their entirety due to foot problems, and then missed a large chunk of his rookie campaign in 2016-17 with a torn meniscus. As such, the max contract that Embiid signed with the Sixers in 2017 included financial protections for Philadelphia should Embiid suffer a career-ending injury.
Embiid bounced back well from his early injury issues, as he appeared in over 60 games during both the 2017-18 and ’18-19 seasons, and was named an All-Star both times in the process. Heading into the ’19-20 season, Embiid needed to log 1,650 total minutes to fully guarantee the remaining three years and nearly $95 million on his contract, and thanks to an agreement between the NBA and NBPA to prorate performance-based bonuses for the season, Embiid has hit the mark.
The 1,650 minute total was based on an 82-game schedule, but the league has decided to consider March 11, when play was suspended due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, as the official end date of the regular season. At that point, the Sixers had played just 65 games, and in turn, the prorated number of minutes that Embiid needed to play was below the 1,329 that he logged on the season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. In other words, the remainder of Embiid’s current contract is now fully guaranteed. Embiid is slated to make $29.5 million next season, $31.5 million for the 2021-22 season, and $33.6 million for the ’22-23 season. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
When the season resumes in Orlando next month, Embiid will be ready. The big man recently revealed that he has been working out nearly six times a week in preparation for a return to action. While he was underwhelmed with his own play throughout the first half of the season, Embiid thinks that he turned a corner after the All-Star break, and he’s hoping to continue that momentum moving forward.
“We’ve been going at it for the past four weeks, about six times a week, just trying to get a head start, and get ready for whatever’s coming,” Embiid said, via the Sixers. “I have something to prove, and I feel like whenever that opportunity comes, it’s going to be my time… I felt like before the season got shut down, I was on that path. Especially after that All-Star game, my mentality completely changed. First part of the season wasn’t up to my standard, not even close. I was on that path of changing it all, go out, and make it happen.”
When the season resumes in Orlando next month, Embiid and the Sixers, who will enter as the sixth seed in the East, will try to make the franchise’s first Finals run in nearly two decades. But even if they don’t get it done this season, the team will have more opportunities to build a title team around Embiid now that his contract is fully guaranteed through 2023.