76ers, Em­biid agree on 5-year ex­ten­sion

Northumberland Today - - SPORTS - DAN GELSTON

PHILADEL­PHIA — The 76ers have put their trust in Joel Em­biid.

Philadel­phia bet its fu­ture on Em­biid, sign­ing one of the more tal­ented, yet in­jury-prone, play­ers in the game to a league max­i­mum con­tract ex­ten­sion. Em­biid and the Six­ers agreed on a $148 mil­lion, five-year ex­ten­sion and it could in­crease even more if the 7-foot cen­tre reaches cer­tain in­cen­tives.

The ex­ten­sion con­firmed Tues­day starts with the 2018-19 sea­son. He’ll make $6.1 mil­lion this sea­son in the fi­nal year of his rookie deal.

Em­biid tweeted a photo of him­self early Tues­day with the cap­tion, “The Process to be Con­tin­ued ...... I LOVE YOU PHILADEL­PHIA #5MoreYears.”

“I’m so thrilled to be in this po­si­tion,” Em­biid said. “I want to thank own­er­ship, man­age­ment, the coaches and most of all the fans, for sup­port­ing me through­out this whole process. I love this city and I’m so, so, so, so ex­cited to be spend­ing my next five years here and hope­fully the rest of my ca­reer, God will­ing. Trust ‘The Process.’ ”

Em­biid’s ca­reer has been rid­dled with in­juries dat­ing to his col­lege ca­reer at Kansas and all three sea­sons with the Six­ers. Em­biid, the No. 3 over­all pick in the 2014 draft, played only 31 games last sea­son and had mi­nor surgery in March to re­pair a torn menis­cus in his knee. He has yet play a pre­sea­son game.

“He’s a dif­fer­ence maker,” coach Brett Brown said Monday. “He has a chance to be great. There’s still lots of work to be done. When you look at his body of work ... he’s re­ally only been play­ing bas­ket­ball for six years, he’s just scratch­ing the sur­face.”

The 23-year-old Em­biid, a na­tive of Cameroon, was only re­cently cleared to par­tic­i­pate in 5-on-5 drills. But the Six­ers must feel con­fi­dent enough in his health to of­fer him the max deal.

Or wor­ried enough to lose him down the line with­out striking a deal.

“Joel is only scratch­ing the sur­face, but he has all the po­ten­tial and prom­ise to go down as one of the all-time greats to wear a Six­ers jer­sey,” team pres­i­dent Bryan Colan­gelo said. “Own­er­ship’s will­ing­ness to ex­tend this con­tract re­flects our col­lec­tive be­lief in Joel Em­biid and a re­in­forced com­mit­ment to build­ing a cham­pi­onshiplevel bas­ket­ball pro­gram.”

With his so­cial me­dia savvy and dom­i­nant of­fen­sive game, Em­biid has be­come an in­stant fan favourite in Philadel­phia. He’s re­cently been spot­ted at Ea­gles games cheer­ing on win­ning kicks and been caught on tape by fans run­ning the city streets and play­ing late-night ten­nis.

But his pop­u­lar­ity hasn’t matched his pro­duc­tion. The Six­ers slapped him with min­utes re­stric­tions in his rookie sea­son, even when he was healthy. The Six­ers also held Em­biid out for at least one game in back-to­back sets and his lim­ited play­ing time was one rea­son he wasn’t a strong can­di­date to win Rookie of the Year. He av­er­aged 20.2 points and 7.8 re­bounds last sea­son.

He helped the Six­ers win eight of 10 games in one stretch in Jan­uary, a stun­ning run for a team that won 10 games the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

Em­biid had 32 points and seven re­bounds in a Jan. 27 game against Hous­ton and hasn’t played or prac­ticed since his he was hurt.

Em­biid had adopted “The Process” as a nick­name and was in­tro­duced as such as part of the pregame lineup fes­tiv­i­ties. Em­biid waves his arms and ex­horts fans to get louder as they chant “Trust the Process!”

The Six­ers are count­ing on Em­biid and No. 1 over­all picks Ben Sim­mons and Markelle Fultz to carry the team from the bot­tom of the league into an Eastern Conference play­off team.

The Six­ers will be pro­tected in the deal if Em­biid con­tin­ues to deal with in­juries that have him more on track to be­come the next Greg Oden in­stead of the next An­thony Davis.

But the flashes of bril­liance have con­vinced Colan­gelo and own­er­ship that Em­biid was worth the risk.

“In the time that he has been on the floor, we have seen him change com­pletely the gym,” Brown. “He does it with just his phys­i­cal pres­ence. He does it with a de­fen­sive mind­set. And he does it with an of­fen­sive tar­get that’s dif­fer­ent than any­thing else we have.”

He didn’t pick up a bas­ket­ball un­til a few years ago, when a friend in­formed him that very few 7-foot­ers suc­ceed in soc­cer. A few months later, Em­biid was lured to a bas­ket­ball camp in the cap­i­tal of Yaounde run by NBA veteran Luc Mbah a Moute, one of just two play­ers from Cameroon to have played in the NBA.

Mbah a Moute per­suaded Em­biid’s par­ents to let him move 9,660 km to Florida, and helped en­rol him at Montverde Academy, one of the best high school pro­grams in the coun­try.

He played just 28 games in his lone sea­son at Kansas and 31 in three years with the Six­ers — 59 games that mat­ter in four years, worth $148 mil­lion and count­ing.


Philadel­phia 76ers’ Joel Em­biid watches dur­ing an NBA bas­ket­ball game against the Mil­wau­kee Bucks, in Mil­wau­kee.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.