By this time next year, Lute Olson’s players with the Arizona Wildcats will have earned $1 billion in NBA salaries.
That doesn’t included endorsements, incentives, appearance fees, significant amounts earned while playing overseas … anything like that. Just NBA salary.
As it stands through the 2012-13 season, the NBA salary figure from 34 Arizona players who were recruited by Olson is at $958,067,273.
Six of those players are still under contract — Jerryd Bayless, Channing Frye, Jordan Hill, Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson and Jason Terry (and Chase Budinger will be playing for someone next year) — which will push that gaudy salary total to 10 figures after next season.
Gilbert Arenas, whose star burned brighter than any of the ex-Wildcats for a couple of years, leads the way with nearly $182 million. That includes the $62 million he was paid to not play for the final three years of his contract with the Orlando Magic, which used the NBA’s amnesty clause in December 2011 to waive Arenas so that he didn’t count against its salary cap or luxury tax.
Arenas played last season in China.
Among the Lute recruits, Iguodala is set for one more monster payday. The Denver Nuggets owe him $16.2 million for next season, but he is expected to opt out and test free agency, where he will be able to sign a four- or five-year deal.
Iguodala, 29, averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists this season.
Frye was unable to play with the Phoenix Suns this season because of an enlarged heart but is hopeful of returning next season. He has two years and $13 million left on his contract.
Jefferson and Terry are each still owed more than $10 million. When they’re done, they will join Arenas, Mike Bibby and new UA assistant coach Damon Stouadamire as having earned more than $100 million in the NBA. Igoudala will expand that elite club to six.
Arizona coach Sean Miller has put one of his recruited players into the NBA — Derrick Williams, the second pick of the 2011 draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Williams has made about $9.4 million in two seasons, with about $5 million guaranteed to come his way next season.
Two more Miller recruits — wing Solomon Hill and forward Grant Jerrett — are angling to be drafted next Thursday night and start earning NBA money. Bigger waves should follow — 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon, Brandon Ashley, Nick Johnson …
But there’s still a long way to go to $1 billion earned.
Here is the breakdown of Olson’s ex-Wildcats in the NBA (2012-13 players in bold):
Sources: I have kept this database for several years, with the main source of information coming from the USA Today salary database and basketball-reference.com, as well as a variety of news stories and Tucson Citizen archives. The USA Today database and basketball-reference.com do not agree in all cases, but the differences are usually minor.