At least one NBA player has reason to celebrate the shortened regular season. Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid hit a minutes-played incentive that will guarantee him $95 million, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski.
As the league focuses on its restart, the NBA and NBPA need to tie up loose ends related to the shortened regular season. Both sides agreed to prorate performance bonuses and incentives to March 11, which is the day the NBA suspended play.
That agreement allowed Embiid to hit his minutes-played incentive. By doing so, Embiid guaranteed the final three years of his contract, which will pay him around $95 million, according to ESPN.
Embiid signed a five-year, $148 million deal extension in 2017 that included financial protections for the Sixers had Embiid suffered career-ending injuries involving his back or feet. Those protections are moot now; Embiid has shown his durability and his All-NBA production has actually outsized his contract.
Embiid needed 1,650 minutes this season to fully guarantee the contract, but prorated over the Sixers’ 65 games that lowered the requirement to below the 1,329 minutes he had played this season.
If Embiid continued to average 30.2 minutes per game over the 76ers’ final 17 games, he would have reached that threshold anyway. Had he gotten hurt, Embiid may have narrowly missed out on that incentive.
If that particular incentive sounds extremely specific and unique, that’s by design. Embiid, 26, signed his five-year, $148 million extension with the 76ers after playing just 76 games with the team. He missed his first two and a half years while dealing with foot injuries. To mitigate some of that risk, the 76ers put a minutes-played incentive into Embiid’s contract. If Embiid stayed healthy the next couple seasons, he would guarantee his contract. But if he got hurt, the 76ers could get out of the contract.
The gamble paid off for Embiid. Immediately after signing the extension, Embiid played in 127 regular-season games over the next two seasons. He was on pace to play in at least 50 games this season before games were suspended.
While that’s a significant chunk of money, Embiid proved he’s worth it. After a delayed start to his NBA career, Embiid has made the All-Star team three straight seasons and has been a member of the All-Defensive and All-NBA team twice.
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