When I recall some of the great Australian Opals teams and players of the past, I immediately think of the bodysuit. Lauren Jackson wore the bodysuit.
Three years ago he was overlooked. Now a big payday is on the horizon.
Flash back to the 2013 and Matthew Dellavedova was unwanted. Overlooked by every team in the NBA Draft, the diminutive point guard battled to sign a bargain basement deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers and fight for his NBA dream.
Even two years ago he was a relative unknown. Unless you were an avid follower of the NBA or the post LeBron Cavs, his name probably didn’t mean too much. Now, he’s set to become one of Australia’s highest-paid sporting stars.
With a return trip to the NBA Finals seemingly on the cards, Dellavedova will have yet another chance to prove his worth on basketball’s grandest stage. And it is undeniable that he has benefited in the afterglow of a LeBron James-led operation.
Dellavedova became a cult hero when his Cavs went down to the Golden State Warriors last season. Filing in for an injured Kyrie Irving, Delly won plenty of admirers (and some haters) for his strength and tenacity when opposed to Stephen Curry. He scored 20 points in game three of that series and made a name for himself.
His 2015-16 campaign has been less conspicuous but Dellavedova has become a key role player for his Cleveland squad, with James praising him for always being “in the right place at the right time”.
The Victorian is a lifetime 40 per cent shooter from three-point land – finishing the current campaign with at a career-high 41 per cent – and is a more than capable defender, even if he utilises some techniques which belong more on a football field that then basketball court.
No one will claim that he’s an NBA superstar, but he’s a very good combo guard who excels at doing the little things very well. And you know what? Players like him should get paid!
So how much money will he be making next season? Former NBA coach and now ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy stated the 25-year-old should be in line to receive $US10 million annually for his services.
Senior NBA insider Brian Windhorst agreed.
Based on last year's signings & this year's market, I believe JVG is about right on $10M/year projection for Delly. He must be studying up.
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) April 23, 2016
Dellavedova took a risky approach to free agency last year, betting on him self to perform this season. He was a restricted free agent but, due a lack of interest from other teams, he chose to remain with the Cavs on a year deal worth $US 1.2 million. But this approach is looking like gold now.
With an estimated $1 billion of money available in free agency next month it appears certain that the St Mary’s product will receive an eight-figure salary. If this does eventuate, he will catapult into the upper echelon of Australia’s sporting rich list.
In February last year, business magazine BRW released a list of Australia’s 50 wealthiest sports personalities. Here’s what the top five looked like when it came to annual earnings.
1. Andrew Bogut (basketball) – $16.2 million.
2. Adam Scott (golf) – $15.5 million
3. Jason Day (golf) – $10.65 million
4. Marcus Ambrose (motor racing) – $5.68 million
5. Tim Cahill (football) – $5.5 million
A $US10 million salary equates to approximately $AU13 million, meaning Delly could be living among the elite in a few short weeks.
More pressing matters await as Dellavedova’s Cavaliers get ready for their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Toronto Raptors.