By Peter Gleason
The Sixers’ Joel Embiid sent a clear message last night to:
His doubters in the local lame-ass media, especially Michael Barkann and phony Philly ex-pat John Gonzalez, not to mention the rest of the NBA!
Playing for the first time since agreeing to a five-year, $146.5 million extension, he scored 22 points in his preseason debut in just 15 minutes in the Sixers’133-114 win over the Brooklyn Nets. Of his 22 points, 14 came from the free-throw line. Embiid also added seven rebounds.
“I didn’t expect that, but I’ve been working hard all summer,” Embiid said. “I didn’t have a lot of time on the court. So I feel like I’m still behind. But with repetition, it’s going to come.”
Embiid has been eased back into action for Philly after having surgery March 24 for a meniscus tear in his left knee. He hadn’t played in a game since Jan. 27.
“It’s just a very potent offensive package that people sort of have to game-plan for,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Embiid. “We see the impact that he makes on the defensive end and all over the place.”
Embiid agreed to the rookie-scale max extension Tuesday, with the $146.5 million total for the deal based on the NBA’s new salary-cap projections for the 2018-19 season. The new deal protects the franchise financially should Embiid suffer a contractually specific catastrophic injury.
“Something like tonight will remind us all that’s why he was paid what he was paid,” Brown said.
Embiid, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, had successive surgeries on his right foot that sidelined him in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee ended his 2016-17 season in March.
His brief but dominant debut season left him as the only rookie since Wilt Chamberlain to average at least 28.7 points per 36 minutes played.