Every sneaker blog has covered your sneaker free agency. ‘Where is PJ going?’ ‘Did you see PJ rock Puma’s?’ What made the free agencies of Gilbert Arenas and Kobe Bryant so legendary? Do you remember anything about them? PJ Tucker: Gilbert wearing those Dolce & Gabbanas was legendary. I will never get that aggressive in my life. That was crazy. What’s funny ever since I became a free agent, everyone has been like, ‘why you don’t wear Gucci’s’ and all this craziness. I can wear a lot of different stuff, but I don’t know if I can do that. That was big. Even Kobe when he left Adidas and before Nike that was huge. Kobe came with the A.I. Reebok Questions in a Lakers’ colorway and even the Jordan III’s that was crazy.
Why should a brand invest in PJ Tucker? PJ Tucker: Honestly with me, I don’t know if anybody else is a bigger brand ambassador than I am. When I am with somebody, I roll with them. I believe this wholeheartedly, when I believe in something, I rock with it, and I think people see that. I think that is the biggest thing people see. For me, it’s not like a LeBron situation where it’s like monumental. He’s this one-of-a-kind athlete that is the face of the brand—I am like an everyday dude. I am like the dude walking down the street, it just so happens that I can guard people and make threes.
A lot of kids growing up who want to play in the NBA mention they want their own signature sneaker. Why is that something you don’t want? PJ Tucker: I don’t want my own shoe. That is something I have never wanted. If anybody is pitching that, I would say no. I feel like that is the only thing that limits me, being a signature athlete, because you have to wear your signature shoe all of the time. I don’t want no parts of that. What makes me standout is the versatility to be able to do everything.
All-Star point guard John Wall and Adidas are engaged in ongoing buyout negotiations that will soon bring his five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal to an end less than two years into the agreement, industry sources told ESPN.
Since signing the deal in January 2018, Wall has been sidelined by a series of injuries, limiting his on-court visibility while wearing the brand's products. Just three weeks after landing the contract, Wall missed 27 games because of a left-knee injury. The injury cost him what would have been his fifth All-Star Game appearance the following month, when he was expected to help headline the brand's Crazy BYW X sneaker in Los Angeles.
Nick DePaula: Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has signed a multi-year shoe deal with @PumaHoops. pic.twitter.com/ECICjxYnld
However, one thing Tucker hasn't been able to do is wear anything other than shoes made by Nike and its subsidiaries. That changed on Oct. 1, when his previous endorsement deal with Nike expired. And while he remains one of the most sought-after free agents among sneaker brands, Tucker is taking a different approach, planning to enjoy his sneaker free agency over the coming months before finalizing his next deal. "I just really like being free," Tucker said. "I have to catch myself sometimes, like, 'Oh, I could wear these now if I want to.'"
While some players simply opt for the highest offer, Tucker is looking for a brand that will allow him to flex his creative muscles on and off the court. He's had an up-close look for the past two years at what Adidas has done with teammate and brand headliner James Harden, who has lobbied the Three Stripes behind the scenes to sign his close friend.
Shams Charania: Spurs guard Dejounte Murray has signed a multi-million dollar shoe endorsement deal with New Balance, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. His Spurs deal also can reach $70M with incentives ($64M guaranteed).
Nick DePaula: LA Clippers sharpshooter @Landry Shamet has re-signed with Nike on a new multi-year footwear & apparel endorsement deal.
I’m told Thompson’s deal is not in jeopardy. Thompson is the face of the brand. In 2016, he re-upped with the Chinese shoe company for a 10-year deal worth up to $80 million. His shoe sales have grown exponentially since he first signed with Anta in 2014. Thompson and his shoe company are expecting big things out of their relationship.
As it happened, Looney was in the practice facility last year and Thompson wasn’t. Looney was eyeing the pile of Anta shoes at Klay’s locker. Looney, who previously wore Adidas, was a sneaker free-agent-to-be and on the market for a shoe deal. He said his camp had already made preliminary contact with Anta about a potential relationship. So his curiosity was especially triggered. Plus, Klay wears the same size as Looney — 15. So Looney went shopping at Klay’s locker. “I’m about to steal all his stuff,” Looney said, recalling his thoughts. “So I took about four or five pairs of shoes.” Looney called Klay and snitched on himself. Klay, of course, said he didn’t care. However, Looney confessed to taking one pair of shoes. It was actually closer to five. He took several pairs of the KT4 shoes. He also nabbed a pair of the KT2 “Splash Brothers.”
Anta reps were at the practice and saw Looney wearing the sneakers. They liked the way he looked in their shoes, which helped the negotiations. On Oct. 4, Looney announced a two-year deal with Anta. He is the third Warrior to endorse the brand. Jacob Evans signed up last year. Anta also has Lakers guard Rajon Rondo and Boston forward Gordon Hayward as endorsers.
That group includes Curry’s teammate Klay Thompson, who earns an estimated $9 million per season from the Chinese brand Anta. Several players command between $2 million and $10 million annually from Chinese companies such as Anta, Li-Ning and Peak, according to two people familiar with shoe contract negotiations who were not authorized to discuss them publicly.
Ryan Wolstat: P.J. Tucker is well known as one of the NBA's premier sneakerheads, but is between deals now. He doesn't know who he is going with: "I’m just having fun right now," Tucker said. "No rush ... Just wearing whatever I want. Finally, for the first time in my life."
Looney’s search for a shoe contract took a bit longer, but he’ll be wearing Anta for at least the next two seasons. “The most important thing about a shoe is comfortability, and also being able to last throughout the game and take care of your feet,” Looney told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I feel Anta does the best job of that. “Also, I like to wear crazy colorways. And Anta has been doing a great job with new colors and creating funky designs. That’s something I was looking for. I saw all the design options they had, and I was ready to sign up.”
Nick DePaula: Warriors center Kevon Looney has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Chinese brand Anta. He & teammate Jacob Evans will wear Klay Thompson’s KT5 signature shoe and other Anta team shoes this season. Klay has pushed for the brand to sign teammates when available. ??: @Loon_Rebel5
Connor Letourneau: It’s official: Kevon Looney is now sponsored by Anta, joining teammate Klay Thompson. pic.twitter.com/DRGkSKE0E1
Nick DePaula: Another factor for @KyleKuzma to sign on with @PumaHoops ? Honoring Nipsey Hussle’s legacy & impact with the brand. “I wanted to go to Puma, not only for everything that I've got going on, but to do some things within this community like Nip did." — Kuz
Shams Charania: Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (@Kyle Kuzma) has signed a five-year endorsement deal with Puma, becoming a face of the company, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Nick DePaula: OFFICIAL: Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday has re-signed with Nike on a new multi-year footwear & apparel endorsement deal. 📄✍️
Marc Stein: All signs point to Nike declining to match Puma's lucrative multi-year offer to the Lakers' Kyle Kuzma reported here Sept. 10 ... lining up Puma to soon unveil Kuzma as its latest star endorser. @PUMAHoops declined comment when reached.
Spurs guard Dejounte Murray is close to a new endorsement deal with New Balance, league sources said.
Nick DePaula: LA Clippers two-way guard @PatBev21 has re-signed with @AdidasHoops on a new multi-year shoe deal.
Nick DePaula: LA Clippers two-way guard @PatBev21 has re-signed with @AdidasHoops on a new multi-year shoe deal. pic.twitter.com/cMxmZ4VK8C
Nick DePaula: Kyle Kuzma is continuing to have ongoing shoe deal talks with Chinese brands, Puma and additional companies. Brands are sending aggressive term sheet offers in the coming weeks, which Nike will have 10 business days to match once an offer sheet is signed.
Marc Stein: Hearing some buzz from the shoe game since arriving in China: Puma is closing in on a deal to sign the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma .. who was forced to withdraw from Team USA last month with an ankle injury
On Wednesday, for instance, Barrett was introduced as the latest athlete to endorse Puma sneakers. It was a pop-up ceremony across the street from the Garden, shadowed by a billboard of Barrett’s smiling face painted on a 31st St. building. “First of all, we’re fresh,” Barrett said of signing with Puma, which now counts three Knicks as its athletes (Barrett, Kevin Knox and the original Puma endorser, Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier).
New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett has signed a multi-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Puma, linking the franchise's highest draft pick in over three decades with the brand's original endorser, Knicks Hall of Famer Walt "Clyde" Frazier.
Over the course of the year, Barrett emerged as a top target for the brand, with executives strongly believing that he'll become the best player from his draft class, while also drawn to the appeal of the New York marketplace. Last season, the company also signed a Knicks rookie in No. 9 overall pick Kevin Knox, along with a mix of nearly a dozen rookies and veterans.
Nick DePaula: OFFICIAL: RJ Barrett has signed a multi-year shoe deal with PUMA. More to come live from New York on 31st Street at 4:30 PM... pic.twitter.com/0INe0BPolV
In June, Harrell inked a partnership with AND1, the NBA footwear and clothing brand that built an iconic legacy in the late 1990s and early 2000s with its summer mixtape series and partnerships with culture-setting athletes like Kevin Garnett, Ben Wallace, Jamal Crawford and Stephon Marbury. Harrell is now the face of AND1 and works alongside Garnett, the company’s creative director and global ambassador, to launch new shoes and products. Harrell will exclusively wear AND1 sneakers next season, but will still switch out his shoes for a different pair at halftime. Off the court, he’s allowed to wear non-AND1 shoes (so, no, he won’t be selling off his impressive collection of Jordans, Nikes, Adidas, etc.). He has a potential collaboration with Wallace in the works and will be wearing exclusive colors of AND1’s new model, the Attack 2.0, to start the season.
Nick DePaula: OFFICIAL: Chicago Bulls’ #7 overall pick @CobyWhite has signed a multi-year shoe deal with @AdidasHoops. pic.twitter.com/HsR7h6LUQo
Nick DePaula: OFFICIAL: #4 overall pick De’Andre Hunter has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Nike. The Hawks small forward’s endorsement deal was negotiated by @Wasserman. pic.twitter.com/bbywcmbk8Q
Chris Haynes: Philadelphia 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle has reached an agreement on a multi-year shoe endorsement deal with Nike, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
This summer, Kuzma is also a shoe-deal free agent and has received strong interest from endorsement companies, including Nike, Jordan Brand and Puma, sources said. Kuzma’s business manager, Vin Sparacio, has held ongoing discussions with interested companies.
San Antonio Spurs rookie Keldon Johnson has announced he has signed a shoe deal with Nike. Johnson made the announcement via his Instagram complete with a highlight reel showcasing his basketball journey to the NBA.
This year's footwear class could feature the most potential since 2012, when Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, James Harden and Dwyane Wade were all up. Of the four then-Nike athletes, two switched to Jordan Brand, Wade opted for a lucrative deal with Li-Ning, and Harden re-signed with Nike for just two years, before bolting for a 13-year deal with Adidas in 2014. Once again, each of the top five players in this year's class are currently under contract with Nike. The brand would ideally like to keep all five: Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Kyle Kuzma, D'Angelo Russell and PJ Tucker.
Other players around the league expected to draw interest include Marcus Smart, as Boston-based Puma has already moved into the lead to eventually sign the nearby Celtics guard. Though talks are ongoing, he was spotted walking into USA Basketball's welcome gathering clad in Puma gear, then laced up the brand's Uproar sneaker in white, blue and red to kick off USAB training camp. Thanks to their overnight free-agency haul, LA Clippers shooter Landry Shamet is also hitting the market at an ideal time, potentially able to take advantage both of the team's LA market size and their expected chance to contend for a championship right away this season.
Nick DePaula: Official: Miami Heat sharpshooter Tyler Herro has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Nike. pic.twitter.com/ezBe1sWV2Q
Chris Forsberg: Is sneaker free agent Marcus Smart going to be the next Puma guy? Smart, playfully: "I plead the fifth." Smart has worn Puma gear in Vegas, including some red-white-and-blue Uproars at Monday’s practice.
Nick DePaula: Charlotte Hornets’ 12th overall pick PJ Washington has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Nike Basketball.
Nick DePaula: As Celtics guard Marcus Smart’s rookie shoe deal with Adidas is set to expire, he’s currently in ongoing talks with brands and was seen wearing Puma today at USAB training camp. There’s mutual interest in a multi-year deal from the Boston-based brand.
After deciding to forgo college and join the Australia-based National Basketball League, RJ Hampton has signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Chinese brand Li-Ning.
Li-Ning is best known for its signing of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade in 2012, during the middle of the franchise's four straight NBA Finals appearances. The company had previously signed Shaquille O'Neal and Baron Davis to shoe deals, and more recently partnered with CJ McCollum, Evan Turner and a handful of other players. "I really like their shoes," Hampton said. "[With] CJ and Dwyane Wade, it's going to be great."
Hampton and his father, Rod, met with Li-Ning several times in Texas, in Las Vegas during the NBA's Summer League and in Los Angeles during the ESPYS week before finalizing the endorsement contract. "They're just a great company," Hampton said. "They've put a lot of work in with me, and they've really been behind me these last couple months, ever since I made my decision [to play in the NBL]."
Darren Rovell: Sources say Zion Williamson had offers bigger than the Jordan deal. Left money on the table for his dream of wearing the logo of his favorite player.
B/R Kicks: Breaking: @Zionwilliamson signs multiyear deal with Jordan Brand. pic.twitter.com/6OkcYTYMvE
Nick DePaula: Zion Williamson: “I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family. Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league & having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had & continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to."
Nick DePaula: Michael Jordan: “Zion’s incredible determination, character and play are inspiring. He’s an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him. We do."
Nick DePaula: OFFICIAL: Atlanta Hawks lottery pick @CamReddish has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Nike. The #10 pick and former Duke wing ranked high for brands because of his on & off-court potential in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/je7VE4Tvva
Zion Williamson has still NOT signed a shoe deal -- despite being the most sought after NBA draft pick since LeBron James -- and our sources say it's all because of Puma. Nike was believed to be the front-runner to sign Zion for months ... with legendary former Nike exec Sonny Vaccaro telling us he thinks Zion's deal could hit the 9-figure mark. And, with Zion rocking Nikes in college, in pre-draft workouts and in some NBA Summer league games ... it seemed like it was just a matter of time before Zion signed with the Swoosh.
We're told Nike is aware of the competition and is making a hard push to get a deal done with Williamson first. As one source puts it, "He's the #1 priority." Remember, Zion did have one bad experience with Nike in college ... when his Nike PG 2.5s blew out during the opening seconds of the Duke vs. North Carolina game.
Nick DePaula: Cleveland Cavaliers rookie point guard and #5 overall NBA Draft pick Darius Garland has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Nike. pic.twitter.com/lgqrfUalIQ
Nick DePaula: BREAKING: Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards has signed a multi-year shoe & apparel deal with Adidas. The Houston-area native grew up wearing Adidas TMacs. “I was a big fan of Tracy McGrady's. Whatever shoe he was wearing, I was trying to wear.” — @Cboogie_3
Nick DePaula: Cleveland Cavaliers 1st round Draft pick @KevinPorterJr has agreed to a multi-year shoe deal with Puma. pic.twitter.com/jc5lUl9FOZ
Nick DePaula: Washington Wizards 1st Round pick Rui Hachimura has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Jordan Brand. The brand is excited for his potential on & off the court and his global fanbase in Japan, which will host the 2020 Olympics.
Nick DePaula: Jayson Tatum has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Jordan Brand. After headlining Nike’s auto-lacing Adapt BB this past season, the 21 year-old Celtics forward is now shifting to the longtime Nike Inc. subsidiary brand.
Former Murray State guard Ja Morant, the likely No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, announced Monday that he signed with Nike. Financial details of the shoe deal were not disclosed, but several media outlets reported it to be a multi-year endorsement contract. "All my life my parents worked for a check," Morant tweeted. "Now I’m proud to say I work for the check. #Nike #NikeBasketball."
Shams Charania: Murray State’s Ja Morant — a projected top-2 NBA Draft pick — has signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Nike, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
According to one NBA source, Williamson has yet to select an agent, a decision that seems inevitable before he signs a lucrative shoe deal. For now, Williamson is surrounded by his mother and stepfather, who have deftly guided him through every step of his journey. Sharonda Sampson and Lee Anderson have quietly helped create the phenomenon, even electing not to do interviews during Williamson’s year at Duke. Most important, Wiggins says, they’ll still be there to help Williamson select an agent. “I’ve got great parents, great siblings, a great circle that care for me and would do anything for me, protect me,” Wiggins says. “That’s the main thing, having a good circle around you.”
Many in the sneaker industry believe Williamson's deal will make him one of the three highest-paid rookie sneaker endorses ever, rivaling LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
"The basketball sneaker business is just terrible right now," Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst at NPD Group, told me. "[Zion] isn't going to generate a lot of shoe sales, so how much do you pay a guy who is essentially going to be an ambassador for your brand? I don't want to make it sound like there's no value there, but I just can't justify the cost."
It’s too early to know what Williamson’s sneaker contract will be worth, but he comes with a built-in audience that includes 2.3 million Instagram followers and 227,000 Twitter followers. Various industry experts said his deal could be worth $50-$100 million. "That’s the number it should be, I don’t know,” said grassroots sneaker guru Sonny Vaccaro, who signed both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to sneaker deals, and was involved in LeBron James’ negotiations as well.
Like James, whose deal was done before the draft lottery that would eventually land him in Cleveland, Williamson is expected by industry insiders to have a deal inked before this year's May 14 draft lottery, as the major sneaker companies see Williamson as a potential marketing superstar regardless of which market he lands in. Back in 2003, James met with Reebok and turned down a $10 million check from the CEO to sign a potential $100 million deal with the brand on the spot. James would instead sign with Nike a week later for a fully guaranteed $87 million over seven years, and now has a lifetime deal with the company.
In fact, many in the sneaker industry expect that Williamson's eventual deal will make him one of the three highest-paid rookie sneaker endorsers ever, joining the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant. "In my lifetime, I think it's going to be the biggest bidding war ever done," said Sonny Vaccaro, the famed former marketing executive with Nike, Adidas and Reebok. "I would put them all on go."
According to sources, executives have already begun to have company balance discussions around targeting Williamson to be a Jordan athlete instead, given Nike's current crowded stable. There have been conflicting viewpoints on whether or not that would be the right decision. "There could be some hurt feelings," Vaccaro said. "Other than those five [signature athletes] at Nike, another 20 of them are pretty goddamn great players that could be going to the Hall of Fame and don't have [a shoe]. They've been on the totem pole, and now [Zion] is going to get a zillion-dollar contract and go above everyone else."
As for the reinforced shoes, the Kyrie 4 model, Williamson was effusive after the game. "The shoes were incredible," he told reporters. "I want to thank Nike for making these." That's music to Nike's ears. The biggest question following Williamson's injury was whether it would hurt Nike's chances to sign him to an endorsement deal once he decides to go pro. If Thursday's results were any indication, their relationship may be healthier than some rival shoes companies would like.
Nike gave LeBron James a massive shoe contract when he entered the NBA and some experts believe the same kind of deal could be given to Williamson. Williamson, who’s currently sidelined with a knee injury, took to Instagram Live this evening, sparking speculation about said shoe deal thanks to his outfit. The Blue Devils’ five-star freshman is wearing all Adidas….
CBA reigning MVP Courtney Fortson became the second player outside the NBA to have his signature shoe. Fortson is a player of Zhejiang Guangsha and signed a sneaker deal with Chinese brand 361.
Shoe industry sources told ESPN's Nick DePaula that there is an internal consensus at Nike that the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson is a force unlike any the company has seen before and will warrant his own custom-made shoes with added support and reinforcement once he's a pro. Custom shoes for college players are rare, except in cases of an extreme size or fit situation. For example, Nike made UNC Asheville's 7-foot-7 center Kenny George 12 custom pairs of a size 26 shoe.
With nearly 60 NBA players as clients and a viral online following, thanks in part to his All-Star-laden summer pickup games, New York-based basketball trainer Chris Brickley has blurred the lines of coaching, social media influence, style and hoops culture in recent years. Now, he's signed an exclusive sneaker deal with Puma, the first-ever multi-year shoe deal of its kind for a basketball trainer, as the brand continues its push back into the NBA landscape. Brickley and Puma will kick off the partnership with a free basketball camp for Charlotte-area kids, as one of many brand events at All-Star Weekend.
Galloway is one of the more well-respected sneakerheads in the NBA. His collection now includes about 1,000 pairs and is split up between his suburban Detroit residence and hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Galloway’s imprint in the sneaker community helped him earn a shoe deal with startup shoe company Q4 almost two years ago. The company provides the silhouettes as a canvas for his creative freedom. The logo is always visible. Every animated concept is generated by Galloway, a suggestion derived from the 10-year-old version of himself that still resides somewhere in his brain. From there, Galloway then relays his ideas to the two people he’s trusted in resurrecting his boyhood, Minnesota artists Salvatore Marcum, 26, known online as “MPLS Customs,” and Andrew Lewis, 32, better known as “ANDR3WTL.” Galloway was introduced to the shoe-based illustrators through hometown friend and WNBA star Seimone Augustus, who has played for the Minnesota Lynx since 2006.
What kind of marketing deals have you had while living and playing in China? JF: I’m with a company called 361 and this is my third year. They’ve created a signature shoe for me every year. Every time they put my shoe out with the Chinese characters that say “Jimo Dashen” they sell out every time. That’s my nickname out here and it means the lonely master. “Jimo” means lonely and it sounds like Jimmer. My teammates told me that it’s a good meaning, like you’re alone at the top of the mountain and no one can reach your level. Like, you’re the best basketball player and it’s a compliment.
As part of its re-emergence in basketball culture, Converse has signed Washington Wizards wing Kelly Oubre Jr. to a multi-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal. The shoe deal will be the first of its kind in the NBA, with Oubre expected to wear Nike basketball sneakers on court, while headlining its Nike Inc. subsidiary brand Converse casually.
"Every game since my rookie year, I came in and just always wanted to look nice and always wanted to outdo myself," said Oubre. "[Style isn't] about anybody else, it's about how you feel in what you're wearing." For the 22-year-old, whose rookie shoe deal with Adidas expired on Oct. 1, the sneaker free agency process saw him also receive interest and take pitches from Puma and New Balance. Converse, originally founded in 1908 with longtime roots in the NBA, presented a unique twist on the standard shoe deal. "It's a different vibration when it comes to someone who is trying to reinvent themselves in something that they started," said Oubre. "It's not necessarily someone trying to come in and disrupt the game, or someone trying to step onto the scene as newcomers again. [Converse] started this, and it's cool to be a part of something with the exclusivity to work with this company, start a partnership and a foundation."
NDP: You weren’t playing of course, but you were doing a sideline interview with the team, and KD’s shoe fell off. What was going through your head, and how natural was that for you to say, “Wouldn’t have happened in the Pumas.” DeMarcus Cousins: It just came off the dome. [laughs] I was just being honest. The day I put my foot in the Pumas, I knew it was different. It’s the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever put on, by far, when it comes to hoops. I haven’t had a problem yet, and I don’t expect to.
NDP: How much of a factor was it that you’d be going from being one of many, to now coming to Puma as a 4-time All-Star and the most accomplished player, giving product input and really making an impact? DeMarcus Cousins: That also played a part in it. Being one of many at one company, and [now] being in a small elite group is a special feeling. That also played a big part in this decision. Basketball separates it from everything else. It’s not 200, 300 players with the brand – it’s a select few. I feel like it’s an elite group, and it’s going to continue to grow from here.
Jeff Goodman: Jim Boeheim on former Syracuse signee Darius Bazley getting guaranteed $1 million deal with New Balance: “LeBron did a nice job helping his client. It is LeBron’s client, right?”
On Monday, the Cincinnati-based prep star announced a partnership with the shoe company New Balance that will pay him at least $1 million — and potentially much more — to be an intern. Warriors forward Kevin Durant offered support for Bazley’s decision Monday night following Golden State’s 123-103 victory over the Phoenix Suns. “It’s cool that he’s going to get some money,” Durant said. “I wonder what he’s going to do on the basketball court. But it’s good that he’s going to make some money while not playing.”
LeBron James: I’m so proud of Rich and the team at @KlutchSports . They are changing the game and redefining what it means to “represent” a kid and his family. 🙏🏾💪🏾💯#Striveforgreatness🚀
Yet that plan has also been nixed. In May, Bazley signed with the prominent agent Rich Paul, who represents LeBron James, John Wall and Ben Simmons among Klutch Sports’ 18 N.B.A. clients. This week, Paul revealed he has arranged for Bazley to spend the heart of the college basketball season — January, February and March — as an intern at New Balance. The internship, to be precise, is folded into a handsome shoe contract Bazley, 18, has landed with New Balance on the lure of his pro potential. According to Paul, Bazley’s multiyear deal will pay him $1 million “no matter what happens” with his N.B.A. career — and can pay up to $14 million if he reaches all performance incentives. “They hooked me up,” Bazley said.
Currently training in Memphis and living with the Memphis assistant coach Mike Miller — one of James’s favorite former teammates — Bazley is moving to the Boston area in early January to launch his off-court business education. He is expected to spend time with New Balance’s marketing department, digital and social teams, footwear and apparel design arms and the company’s sports laboratory in Lawrence, Mass. New Balance hasn’t marketed basketball shoes since the 1980s, when Worthy was at the height of his success with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bazley is the company’s first signee as part of the relaunch. He was rated No. 26, near the bottom of the first round, in ESPN’s most recent mock draft Aug. 29.
Orlando Magic rookie center Mo Bamba has officially signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Under Armour. The news comes a few days after Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid inked his deal with the Maryland-based sportswear company. The 7' 10" Bamba was selected sixth overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Magic after playing one season at the University of Texas. Over the summer, the center also gained more viral fame for being the namesake of fellow Harlem native Sheck Wes' summer anthem "Mo Bamba." "I'm now in a position to blaze my own trail," Bamba said in a press release.
Nick DePaule: Andrew Wiggins kicks his sneaker free agency off in a pair of Nike KD11s. His team has been reaching out to brands all month and is still looking to gain traction on a shoe deal offer. Adidas has so far been willing to let him walk.
The emotional toll is obvious, but Kanter’s sacrifice is evident elsewhere. He can’t leave North America and hasn’t been able to secure any endorsement deals. Nike, the same company that championed Colin Kaepernick’s controversial remonstration by putting him on the frontlines of a recent ad campaign, now refuses to sign Kanter. “I talked to Nike and they said ‘we want to give Enes a contract. We’re watching him. But if we give him a contract they will shut down every store in Turkey, so we cannot give him a contract,’” he says. “I’m an NBA player with no shoe deal. No endorsement deal. And I play in New York!”
Nick DePaula: Warriors All-Star DeMarcus Cousins’ multi-year shoe deal with Puma is now official, as Nike has officially declined to exercise its match rights, according to a brand source. Cousins immediately becomes most accomplished NBA player signed to Puma and current face of the brand.
Resell platform GOAT has partnered with the Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma for a first-of-its-kind endorsement. Making the most of the NBA's lifted sneaker restrictions, GOAT plans to outfit Kuzma in rare Nike shoes both on and off the court throughout the year. Teaser shots include Virgil Abloh's Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 "MoMA" and the "Crown Jewel" LeBron 10. "GOAT has inspired me to start collecting more seriously and build my style around sneakers,” Kuzma said in a press release. “People assume that, as an NBA athlete, you can get access to any kind of sneaker you want. When in reality, it’s hard to get the exclusive releases or shoes from the past, and feel confident they’re authentic. GOAT gives me a second chance at not only the limited releases I missed, but also the shoes I wasn't able to afford growing up.”
Nick DePaula: Oklahoma City Thunder rookie @HamidouDiallo has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Under Armour. The high flyer will be wearing the new HOVR Havoc Low model to start the season.
Gordon Hayward: New season. New beginnings. I'm excited to announce my partnership with Anta! GH signature shoe dropping next fall 🔥 Big things to come... pic.twitter.com/zTiHh5nbWP
August 4, 2021 | 12:42 pm EDT Update
August 4, 2021 | 12:01 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Free agent center Enes Kanter has agreed to a one-year deal with the Boston Celtics, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Kanter returns to Boston to compete in the Eastern Conference title race.
Even having been cast aside, Dragic adores the Heat, sources said. Serious veterans appreciate Riley’s commitment to winning. “We never once spoke about Miami as a city,” Butler’s agent, Bernie Lee, told me last year in explaining Butler’s desire to be there. “Obviously it’s an amazing place with amazing people, but Jimmy wasn’t going there for the beach. Since he’s gotten there, I think we have gone out to eat less than 10 times and one of them was the Super Bowl. We didn’t even talk about the tax advantages. The only questions he asked were of the background of the people involved and how they would build out the team.”