Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid's extension proves upside is everything

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The Philadelphia 76ers signed center Joel Embiid to a five-year contract extension, the team announced Tuesday afternoon. If Embiid is able to play for the majority of the next six years, that extension will look like a bargain.

The Sixers know what they have in Embiid on the floor - an athletic, inside-out, physical specimen capable of defending the rim and taking over the game on offense.

With considerably more talent surrounding him this season, including No. 1 picks Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, Embiid, if able to stay healthy, should see his shooting percentages skyrocket.

The only question is: Why right now?

Keep in mind, though, the National Basketball Association is a league where centres like Timofey Mozgov and Ian Mahimini sign four-year, $64 million deals. The Sixers had until October 16 to extend Embiid, and got it done a week prior to that.

After missing two seasons to recover from a pair of knee injuries, the 7-foot Kansas product finally made his debut for the Sixers previous year and appeared in 31 games for them. Last season, he suffered a knee injury that ended his season prematurely.

Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocks in 25 minutes per game in his 31 starts last season.

But the biggest number is 31.

The Sixers play a preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. If Embiid can stay healthy, this new deal looks great but if his health problems re-occur, the Sixers will be left in a hard situation. The most apt comparison to Embiid on the court is Hakeem Olajuwon, something I've been saying since the kid was at Kansas.

The Sixers took advantage of Embiid's injury history to reportedly build salary safeguards into the contract that protect them against further injuries.

After playing just 31 career games, Embiid got paid the maximum by the 76ers.

Details of the contract haven't yet been released but several reports mentioned the unique complexity of the deal. The key fact still unknown about the deal - and the one that will determine the extent of the risk involved for Philadelphia - is the amount of guaranteed money.

There's a pretty good chance Embiid only plays half of the Sixers' games this season, the last before this monstrous extension kicks in. Embiid possesses the skill set of a generational talent. You don't want a guy like that to go anywhere else. But this a clear win for Embiid, who locked in a significant payday. If he can stay healthy in the coming years, then the Sixers will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the East.

Marketing a player like Embiid is quite easy.

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