Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has been able to personally congratulate the NBA’s new $148 million man — former Jayhawk center Joel Embiid — on landing a five-year contract extension that will keep the 7-footer with the Philadelphia 76ers through the 2022-23 season.
“We texted back and forth. He’s happy. We’re all happy for Jo,” Self, who coached one-and-done college player Embiid during the 2013-14 season, said Tuesday after it was announced by the Sixers that Embiid had signed a designated maximum rookie scale contract extension.
“We’re happy for Jo and Wiggs, all those guys,” Self added of Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and other former Jayhawks in the NBA. “To think those guys both maxed out and will have made $180 or $190 million dollars (with incentives) by the time they are 27, that’s pretty cool.”
Former KU wing Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft (Embiid was tabbed third in the same draft) has said he will sign his own five-year, $148 million contract extension before the Oct. 16 deadline to prevent him from becoming a restricted free agent after the 2017-18 campaign.
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Embiid, 23, has earned about $14 million his first three years in the league while playing in just 31 total games because of injuries. A starter from day one, the 22-year-old Wiggins has earned about $17 million in his first three campaigns while playing in all but one game.
“It’s not going to hurt, that’s for sure,” Self said, when asked if the highly publicized players’ contract negotiations and extensions could help in recruiting.
“I mean, we want our guys to make as much money as they can when they leave,” Self added. “(But) that’s not what we sell guys on when we go in the homes. That’s not the main thing. We’re happy for them, but not any happier for Jo than Frank (Mason, second-round pick with the Sacramento Kings). I’m certainly happy for everybody (that makes a living in the pros).”
Self and current members of the KU team will be able to visit with Embiid in person soon enough.
The Sixers, who play the Miami Heat on Friday night in an NBA exhibition game at the Sprint Center, are planning on practicing Thursday in Lawrence, a Sixers official told The Star on Tuesday night.
Embiid, who returned to 5-on-5 scrimmaging last Friday and at practice Tuesday appeared fully recovered from last March’s surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, is listed as probable for Wednesday night’s exhibition game against the Brooklyn Nets at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Barring any setbacks, Embiid, who missed the team’s first three exhibitions, should be healthy enough to practice at KU, then play during his return trip to the Sprint Center, where he scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds blocked four shots and had three steals in the Jayhawks’ 80-63 victory over New Mexico on Dec. 14, 2013.
Embiid did not play in the Big 12 Tournament or NCAA Tournament because of a back injury in his one-and-done season at KU.
On Tuesday he spoke with reporters about his new contract — one he signed Monday on his mother Christine’s birthday.
“It’s amazing. I am blessed. I am in an amazing position,” Embiid said. “It just shows you how much the team trusts me. I can’t wait to get out there and play especially for the city of Philadelphia.
“I was thrilled. I was happy. I was amazed. I didn’t know what to say, but I was happy,” he added of his emotions being presented the new contract.
He wants to use some of the money to support his foundation run by his parents in his native country of Cameroon.
“Over there, there’s a lot of poverty,” Embiid told Philly.com. “A lot of people don’t have a lot of stuff. I feel like I need to do a lot of stuff over there.”
Embiid missed the first two seasons of his NBA career because of a pair of surgeries to repair the navicular bone in his right foot. He played well in 31 games in 2016-17, averaging 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds, before undergoing knee surgery on March 24.
Embiid has missed the first three exhibition games of the 2017-18 preseason as the team takes a cautious approach to his return from a meniscus tear in his left knee. His last game played was Jan. 27.
According to Philly.com, Embiid’s new contract is “heavily salary-cap protected should Embiid miss significant playing time because of injuries.”
“I would term it shared risk,” Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said, declining to disclose salary cap protections to Philly.com. “I talk about finding the common ground. We have found the common (ground).
“Again, I fully anticipate and hope we are paying the entirety of the contract,” he added.
His teammates are happy, not jealous.
“He’s a beast. As soon as he hits that court, I can’t name one person who’s going to stop him. Honestly, there’s nobody that can compete with him in his position. There’s no one,” Sixers guard Ben Simmons told nbcsports.com.