Basketball superstar Steven Adams is set to earn the same as all our rugby players combined

While Steven Adams might be lamenting the news that Kevin Durant will be leaving his Oklahoma City Thunder, he might also sneak in a smile about the potential payday he may now receive.

The money being thrown around on the first few days of free agency provided an indication that Adams' 2017 payday would be even more astronomical than first thought, and now with the news of Durant's departure, that's almost set in stone.

With Durant gone, Oklahoma won't want to lose any more key players, coupled with the fact that not signing Durant opens up a wealth of cap space.

The NBA's salary cap for the 2016-17 season has been set at $94.1 million, a huge leap from last season that has led to the enormous deals being given to players in free agency.

The cap last season was $70 million. The increase was largely because of revenue increases tied to the league's new national TV deals, worth about $2.5 billion a year, that begin next season.

Dan Dibley from 95.7 The Game in San Fran - talks to the Crowd Goes WIld breakfast about the Durant trade:

The salary cap will increase again to a projected $110 million at the end of next season.

Adams becomes a restricted free agent at the end of next season meaning other teams can offer him contracts, but the Thunder can match or offer more and he will be even more valuable this season after Durant has gone.

Already this season, players a lot less valuable than Adams have been receiving big contracts as the teams struggle to try and spend the extra cap money.

Adams currently earns $3.15 million a season but estimations from as recently as May that suggest Adams will receive a four-year deal in the range of US$15 million a year ($22m) now seem well short of the mark. Given the breakout playoff performance that followed those predictions and given the magnitude of contracts handed out in the last 24 hours, Adams appears in line to earn a maximum deal.

For a player with fewer than six years' experience, that figure will start at US$22 million ($30m). In other words, Adams could, over the course of his contract, earn the same amount as the current New Zealand Rugby player pool ($121m across a three-year period).

If Oklahoma City are unwilling to offer such an amount - and all indications suggest the Thunder want to lock up a player they drafted at No 12 overall - Adams will find no shortage of suitors.

Dan Dibley out of 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, told the Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast that Adams is in for a big deal no matter what.

"I think Oklahoma City is going to be forced to open up the bank account and I think he's going to be staying there," Dibley said.

"If you're Steven Adams, you're in a unique situation where you're one of the few that have shown the ability to do well on both ends of the court, so he's going to get paid no matter what."

Meanwhile, Oklahoma fans are understandably furious over Durant's decision and have already started burning their shirts.

- NZ Herald

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