Steven Adams' longtime mentor is intrigued by the impact the Kiwi basketball star's latest NBA move will have.
On Saturday, the 27-year-old was part of a large four-team trade involving the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks that saw the Oklahoma City Thunder deal him to the New Orleans Pelicans, and bring in five new players and three draft picks. He had previously spent all seven seasons in the NBA with the Oklahoma City franchise.
The centre then signed a two-year US$35 million ($NZ50 million) deal that will keep him under contract at the Pelicans until the end of the 2022-23 season.
That is added to the year he has left in a four-year, US$100 million deal.
Kenny McFadden, the man credited with discovering Adams in New Zealand, thinks the contract extension will be fantastic for Adams.
"It gives him the chance to catch his breath," McFadden tells the Herald.
"The way the business goes, once you get older, you can be bounced around a little bit and by the time you put your bags down, you can be picking them up and heading out again. So if anybody can give you an extension on the way in, they've got a lot of confidence in you and they're going to give you time to work in and gel and try work out something special for that organisation."
Accepting an extension is a smart move for Adams. He leaves a team which is looking at the future rather than the present. In return, he joins a team brimming with exciting young talent, an experienced coach who's also new to the franchise in Stan Van Gundy, and a team with a determination to win now.
The headline act of that young group is forward Zion Williamson, who was last year arguably the most anticipated draft pick since LeBron James in 2003. The 20-year-old can shoot, dunk, pass and set screens as if he's a massive wall that's been dropped on the court.
The Pelicans also have guard Lonzo Ball, who is known for his passing ability, and forward Brandon Ingram who this week recommitted for another five years. Both are only 23.
"As you see the team [OKC] starting to be dismantled, the writing was on the wall that he was going to go somewhere, and you can't really complain about New Orleans," McFadden said.
"They've got a group of up and coming players, and Zion is one of the most exciting players in the league right now so they'll be getting plenty of TV time. It's just a matter of them getting some chemistry and with Steve bringing some leadership, it's a good fit."
Adams is among the more than half a dozen players already traded by OKC, as general manager and executive vice president Sam Presti tries to push forward with the plan to reshape the franchise after over a decade of contention.
The plan is clear – hoard draft picks and young assets with a long-term view. They already have 16 first round picks through to the 2027 draft, while just four of their extended 21-man roster is 30 or older.
Adams' task with the Pelicans will be relatively simple – rebound on both ends, box out on defence, and set screens to allow the likes of shooter JJ Redick to get open and drain threes.
"JJ's rubbing his hands already." McFadden thinks, "He's going to experience those wide open shots that KD [Kevin Durant] was getting back in the day."
McFadden predicts that a lot of New Zealand basketball fans will head to the Pelicans with Adams. All of a sudden, the sky blue singlets of Oklahoma City which grace the likes of Great North Road, Oriental Parade and Moorhouse Ave, will be replaced by the navy of New Orleans.
"OKC was probably the best thing for him." McFadden reflects.
"When you look around the league, going over to the States as a young Kiwi, I think it was an ideal fit for him. He was able to be in a small city but a showcase team. He arrived just after they'd lost a championship [to the Miami Heat] and they had some good veterans on that team but they were also young. He was able to be in the spotlight but without a lot on his own shoulders. The city embraced him.
"But I think most will switch over," McFadden anticipates. "A Kiwi is a Kiwi, but a Kiwi has to be on the team they want to support. It's going to be easy to support New Orleans though because they're not a bottom-dweller, and they're not one of the special teams but they've got special talent."
McFadden also foresees Adams making the most of the cuisine which is associated with the Southern city.
"I went down with him in his second year  when he made the Rising Stars challenge at the All-Star weekend. Trust me, I had a few good bowls of gumbo and I'm sure he's going to enjoy the seafood in particular."