Steven Adams will become an overnight millionaire, and one of New Zealand's highest paid sports stars, when his name is called out at Friday's NBA draft in New York.
The 19-year-old from Wellington will soar past the annual earnings of his sister, double Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams, when he is picked somewhere in the first round of the NBA's annual distribution of young talent.
With the 2.13m Kiwi tipped to be drafted somewhere between 10 and 20, but with an outside chance he could even go top-10, he will immediately rival the earnings of our leading All Blacks, and should land squarely in the top-five highest paid Kiwi sportsmen.
Rookie salary scale for first-round picks starts at US$4,479,800 for the top pick, sliding downwards to US$1,508,200 for No 15.
If Adams happened to go around No 11 or 12, which is where several respected draft boards have him, he could expect his initial salary to be around US$1.8m ($2.3m) for his first year. All rookie NBA contracts for first-round picks have two guaranteed years.
If Adams does end up earning in the region of $2.3m-$2.5m a year, that would put him on a par with All Blacks stars Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, whose incomes are boosted by endorsements.
If Adams kicks on to a respected NBA career, he could also expect to significantly enhance his earnings through sponsorship in both the US and New Zealand. And if he did prove an NBA success, he could expect his second contract to be in the region of US$5-US$10m annually.
In the most recent Sunday Star-Times collation of New Zealand's top sporting earners, America's Cup guru Russell Coutts was estimated top, with annual income of around $13.4m, with retired footballer Ryan Nelsen thought to be next at around $5m. All Whites star Winston Reid is understood to have recently signed a similar-level deal with West Ham.
- Sunday Star Times
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