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Top picks in NBA draft doing some financial planning

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Kentucky Wildcats drives to

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Kentucky Wildcats drives to the basket against Frank Kaminsky of the Wisconsin Badgers in the first half during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis. Credit: Getty Images / Streeter Lecka

Imagine being a teenager and getting handed a six-figure check.

That will soon be the case for many of the players whose names are called by commissioner Adam Silver Thursday night at the NBA Draft. And that combination of deep pockets, easy access to unlimited goods and services, and financial inexperience could prove disastrous for young millionaires.

All rookies should Google Antoine Walker for a lesson in responsible spending, or lack thereof. The former NBA All-Star made more than $110 million in his 12-year career, only to go bankrupt. Some players will learn the hard way that the money and lavish lifestyle aren't guaranteed to last forever. But if they spend wisely, players can position themselves for a lifetime of financial stability . . . and retirement in their 30s.

No player will make more in their rookie deal than the Minnesota Timberwolves' first pick, which is expected to be Karl-Anthony Towns. The first year of that contract for the No. 1 selection in the draft will be worth $4.753 million. NBA players typically get paid bi-weekly. So before taxes, each paycheck will be for just under $200,000. And oh, by the way, Towns will only be 19 years old when the season begins.

So when the first check gets deposited, what does he expect to spend the money on?

"I'm probably going to save it," he said wisely. "I have no idea what to do with it. I just really want to make sure I have a long-term [plan]."

Sounds like a financial adviser's dream client. He does have other ideas in mind, though. Seafood stores in the Minnesota area may want to take notice.

"My mom and my sister love lobster and shrimp," Towns said. "I want to make sure they're eating lobster and shrimp for the rest of their lives."

If Towns should somehow fall to the Lakers with the second pick, the seafood selection may be a little better in Los Angeles. But that pick will more likely be Jahlil Okafor, who says he also will use his first paycheck to take care of a family member. This one, though, has four legs.

"Probably something for my puppy," he said. "I'll probably buy her something. [Her name is] Natty, like Natty Championship."

Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein -- who Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird recently called a "$100-million dollar player" -- took a few seconds to think about what he might buy. "Ummm, I don't know," he said. "A house maybe. I already have everything. I don't really need anything."

But that $100 million, should he go on to earn it, could sure buy him a lot of things he doesn't need.

When Arizona's Stanley Johnson was asked what he plans to do once his check clears, he responded with the most common and generous answers of the day. "Buy my mom a house," he said without hesitation.

Emmanuel Mudiay, who played high school basketball in Texas, decided to forego a college career and play professional basketball in China, where he signed a one-year deal for $1.2 million. He believes that experience will help him adjust to the financial decisions that come with playing in the NBA, where the contracts and earning power are much greater than overseas.

"It definitely did," he said of the preparation. "Being around professionals, seeing older men, how they carry themselves when they have a lot of money."

As for his first check with the NBA logo on it?

"It's definitely not going to be for me," he said. "It's going to be more so for my family. I'm not focused on myself right now. I'm just excited to play the game that I love."

Kristaps Porzingis, a 19-year-old Latvian center who played professionally in Spain, felt the same way. "Right now, I'm not thinking about money," he said. "My dream is to play in the NBA, to get drafted. I want to take care of my family, but it's not about money for me."

Says the future teenage millionaire.

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