Ewing Signs for an Estimated $12 to $16 Million

Patrick Ewing, the first pick in the 1985 National Basketball Assn. draft, signed a multiyear contract Wednesday with the New York Knicks.

Although terms were not revealed, insiders speculated that the 7-foot, 240-pound Georgetown center will receive between $12 million and $16 million over a period of five to seven years. He almost certainly will earn at least $1.5 million in his rookie season, making him the highest-paid NBA rookie in history and one of the highest-paid athletes anywhere.

Knick Coach Hubie Brown indicated he would use Ewing on a rotating basis at center and power forward with Bill Cartwright and Pat Cummings.

The previous high NBA rookie salaries, to Ralph Sampson and Akeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets, were for close to $1 million apiece.

The only other rookies in American sports who signed contracts that may have been worth more than Ewing’s are three football quarterbacks. Steve Young signed a multiyear pact worth a reported $40 million with Los Angeles of the U.S. Football League; John Elway signed a five-year contract worth about $1 million each season with the National Football’s League’s Denver Broncos, and Bernie Kosar signed a four-year contract with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL worth about $1.4 million each year.