Joel Embiid cashes in

I'm not going to argue the move the Sixers made yesterday to lock up center Joel Embiid to a long-term deal.

The team made it clear. Embiid simply can do things on the court that not many people are able to do.

And that's part of the problem.

Embiid is all too rarely on the court.

That didn't stop the Sixers from signing him to a max contract extension, $148 million over five years.

Embiid, who missed all of his first two seasons in the league with a variety of ailments, has just started to scrimmage in 5-on-5 in training camp. He has yet to appear in the exhibition season.

He finally got on the court last year, playing in parts of 31 games before having knee surgery. He has never played without a minutes restriction because of his lengthy medical issues.

When the Sixers finally got him on the court, it was only with minutes restrictions that limited his effectiveness. He also did not play back-to-back games. None of that stopped him from showing signs of being a dominant player. When he was on the court, it was obvious he could be a difference maker, averaging 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds last season.

"He's a difference maker," coach Brett Brown said. "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."

No argument from me.

Embiid is the key to the Sixers season. With him, they have a chance to be a playoff team. Without him, even with the addition of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, they are still in rebuilding mode.

But the flashes of brilliance have convinced team president Bryan 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."

Now all they have to do is get him - and keep him - on the floor.