Dante Exum (right) in action for the Boomers against New Zealand last year.

Dante Exum (right) in action for the Boomers against New Zealand last year. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Eighteen-year-old basketball player Dante Exum will vault into the ranks of ­Australia's highest-paid athletes when he is drafted by a team in the National Basketball Association this week.

A highly rated guard, Exum is set to be a high draft pick by one of the 30 NBA teams in the United States and Canada on Friday, with estimates he could be at least the fourth or fifth, overall.

Should he be picked fourth by the Orlando Magic or fifth by the Utah Jazz – as predicted by several draft experts in the US media – Exum will move into the top 10 of the annual BRW Top 50 Sports Earners list.

First-year players, or rookies, initially sign two-year guaranteed contracts, with the team holding options for a third and fourth season. Salaries are set on a sliding scale depending on what slot a player is drafted in.

At fourth in the draft, Exum would, in his first season, receive a wage that counts in his team's salary cap of $US3,326,700, or $US3,012,500 if he is taken fifth. ­However, high draft picks usually sign ­contracts worth 120 per cent of their salary cap-­measured wage, meaning Exum would receive $US3,992,040 ($4.27 million) to $US3,615,000. His salary would rise at least another 31 per cent by the fourth year of the contract, provided his team exercised its option to keep him on the squad.

Represented by the same agents as Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, Exum has signed lucrative endorsement deals with adidas and a trading card company. Tenth position on this year's Top 50 Sports Earners was filled by Socceroos star Tim Cahill, who earns $4 million with the New York Red Bulls.

Meanwhile, Australian Patty Mills is due a substantial pay rise after winning the NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs. Mills, who was paid $1.3 million in the past season, is a free agent. While it is expected he will re-sign with the Spurs, it has been rumoured the New York Knicks could offer him a contract worth as much as $US22.65 million over four years.

Australian Financial Review