Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is an upcoming sneaker free agent who’s expected to get a ton of attention from the marquee brands next fall.
Nick DePaula told our own Alex Kennedy that Booker is worth watching when he becomes a sneaker free agent next year (via HoopsHype Podcast):
“There’s not really a can’t-miss, signature-level guy this fall. But next year, Devin Booker is a guy that every brand is already circling. That Phoenix team is going to be really, really intriguing on the floor with that core they’re starting to build and I think they may be able to become a team of the future sort of like how people viewed the Timberwolves and Thunder before.
Book is a guy who, I think, checks every box in terms of what brands are looking for: off-court style, an exciting style of play on-court, an explosive scorer, a young guy. I think he could be the guy that a lot of brands are targeting next.”
The 21-year-old guard received a player exclusive on the Nike Zoom Rev 2017. According to BallerShoesDB.com, he has also worn the Nike Kobe AD sneakers as well as the Nike Hyberdunk 2016’s. Here he is talking about the Nike Kobe A.D. PE:
He’s stylish on and off the court, even rocking the collaboration with Virgil Abloh for the Off-White Flyknit sneakers back in 2017.
Booker came up with the Swoosh, too. He attended a Nike-branded college at Kentucky and, when he was in high school, he played for the brand’s Elite Youth Basketball League with the AAU team Alabama Challenge.
When asked what his potential signature shoe would look like, Booker described two different Nike kicks (via Footwear News):
“I would say: No. 1, has to be a low top — that’s most important to me. I love playing in a low top. It has to be comfortable — that’s also important for me — and lightweight. It would be a mix between a Kobe [Bryant sneaker] and a Paul George type.”
While it seems he will most likely stay Nike, don’t be surprised when other competitors make huge offers to him as well.
After signing sharpshooting rookie Trae Young this offseason, it’s possible that Adidas would want another excellent and more proven scorer in Booker. Perhaps another rival, Under Armour, could bring Booker on to complement the more established Stephen Curry. On the podcast, DePaula explained how Nike handles negotiations with their sneaker free agents:
“For nearly all established players, the shoe deal runs through September 30 and then expires on October 1. For Nike guys, what usually happens is there is a 60-day window where they can start taking pitches from other brands in advance of the deal expiring. So in August and September, that’s usually when [players hear pitches from other brands]. In mid-September, that’s usually when offers are being finalized for most players. Once an offer sheet is signed, Nike has a match clause on all of their existing deals – as do many other brands – so they have about 10 business days to match an offer sheet from a rival (if the player receives on).”
Puma is a brand that could potentially be in play for some of these big-name sneaker free agents who will be available in the next year or two (like Booker, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard and DeMarcus Cousins).
After adding Rudy Gay and a number of 2018 first-round picks in recent months (including the top two picks in the draft), DePaula explained to Kennedy that Puma isn’t done adding to their roster of talent:
“Part of [their long-term plan] is signing established guys who have been in the league already. Rookies are usually signed right around the draft, while established players’ deals usually expire in October. They aren’t just trying to sign rookies, and it’s not like who they have now is who they’re going to have at the start of the season. They’re going to be aggressive in terms of signing established guys.”
Don’t count out Chinese brands like Anta (who have Klay Thompson) as well as Li-Ning (CJ McCollum and Dwyane Wade) and Peak (Tony Parker) when it comes time to recruit Booker too.
DePaula, who has spent significant time in China in each of the last two offseasons, has seen firsthand how serious these companies are and how badly they want to land star endorsers.
Booker will certainly be a top target when his contract with Nike expires. But before we get to the Suns star, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Embiid, Leonard and Cousins among others.