Basketball: Adams' deal great for New Zealand, improves Tall Blacks chances

By Dale Budge

Steven Adams handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo / Getty Images
Steven Adams handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand basketball star Steven Adams' massive contract extension will have a major impact on the sport back home according to Basketball New Zealand and it might help him pull on the Tall Blacks singlet as well.

Adams inked a new $140m deal that will keep him with the Oklahoma City Thunder until 2020 and no doubt change his life in the US.

The flow-on effect of that success will be felt back home however.

"It is fantastic," says Basketball New Zealand chief executive Iain Potter. "We are really delighted for him, his family and everyone that has supported him.

"It is wonderful for the basketball scene in New Zealand.

"It almost guarantees that he will be front and centre for a long time to come, which is what we assumed anyway.

"Signing the big deal was the icing on the cake. His success going back three or four years, going off to US college and then getting drafted and going to OKC just provided a constant positive media attention for four years now.

"It has highlighted the opportunities the US college system has. There are over 100 New Zealand basketball kids playing in US colleges now.

"The Adams factor has contributed significantly to that just by putting the spotlight on what is possible."

Adams has not been able to represent the Tall Blacks since making it big in the US. He has turned down the chance to play for the national side in recent years on the advice of his agent as he has tried to secure a long career in the NBA.

With the rich four-year contract now safely in his back pocket Potter believes Adams is much more likely to wear the black singlet than before.

"Steven says he will play - injury, health and fitness aside," Potter explains. "It is a case of when not if as far as he is concerned.

"His agent always said to us that it was important to secure his commercial position and I believe this deal has done that.

"So then it will come down to other factors. One is timing - he will only be available outside of the NBA season and pre-season.

"The second thing is his injury and fitness status. If he needs to be in recovery mode at the end of the NBA season then that is going to be a priority for him and we understand that as well.

"I think now the commercial issues that were hanging over him are resolved.

"I am confident the time will come where [playing for the Tall Blacks] will happen."

There has been a school of thought that the relationship between Adams and his camp with Basketball New Zealand has been strained but Potter says that most certainly is not the case.

"Right now I would describe it as very positive. I met with Steven two or three times when he was out in August. I met with Sam Presti a couple of times, I met with Steven's agent Darren Matsubara. It was very positive.

"He is very big on community basketball and he has spoken about not all kids have the genetic opportunity but he wants all kids to have the opportunity to be the best they can be.

"That is a great opportunity for us to work alongside him to do that."

- NZ Herald

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