Once the dust settles from Tuesday’s draft lottery (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) and teams are slotted accordingly, Young and his group will listen to sneaker endorsement pitches from companies beginning next week in Los Angeles. Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Puma are all expected to present, with Young already having developed a level of familiarity with each brand. The 6-foot-2 Oklahoma native hosted an Under Armour exec for a private workout last month before grabbing dinner with his family and the exec later that evening. The next day, Young worked out in front of Adidas reps. Nike’s sports marketing group checked out a workout as well.
Young and his parents, Ray and Candice, ultimately passed on Roc Nation, signing with Octagon Sports for his representation, but the Puma option is still very much on the table for the former Oklahoma guard who is widely considered the most marketable player in the NBA draft class of 2018. "There's a magic to certain players. There's an 'it factor' that's hard to quantify, and I believe he has that," said Omar Wilkes, one of the Octagon agents representing Young. "He's able to have that with his combination of passing, shooting, ballhandling and charisma. There's an effortless ease about him when he's on the court."
Adidas is expected to make Young a competitive offer, despite being in the process of revamping its basketball strategy in the aftermath of the ongoing FBI investigation into NCAA violations. The point guard is one of only five players Adidas is believed to be pitching on an endorsement deal, though the brand already features signature sneakers for three NBA point guards -- James Harden, Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose -- and recently re-signed John Wall.
Puma, the wild card in the mix, plans to present Young with a prototype of its upcoming fall basketball sneaker this week in advance of its official pitch. Then the Puma team will showcase its marketing plans, future product concepts, growth strategy and an overview of how the brand plans to re-engage in basketball. Puma has largely been removed from the NBA in this millennium, but has long been known for its history of wearable lifestyle products. More recently, a Rihanna-led women's franchise has helped uplift the entire brand. "This is their first real foray back into basketball since 1998 with Vince Carter," Wilkes said. "The possibility to be the seminal piece to re-establish that category for Puma is what's enticing."
That decision by Crawford to put real wear and tear on his $695 kicks will soon pay off in shipments of those shoes to sport for the Pelicans’ playoff run, with the potential for negotiations to continue over the summer. But as the 29-year-old Detroit native told HoopsHype.com‘s Alex Kennedy, his support for the Triple Bs is way bigger than basketball. “I see the vision. It’s a black-owned business and it’s entrepreneurship,” Crawford said. “It was smart that instead of signing on with someone else and letting that company use their likeness, LaVar just started a company of his own with his kids so they can use their own likenesses and take advantage of the opportunities. In this era, it’s like he’s taking people to business school without them having to sit in class, you know? It’s genius, for real.”
New Orleans Pelicans guard Jordan Crawford and his representation are in talks for a partnership deal with Big Baller Brand, sources told Yahoo Sports.
The company is expected to send Crawford new merchandise, including shoes, this week for the NBA playoffs. Crawford became the first NBA player — besides Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball — to wear the brand this season and has continued to do so in the postseason. At this point it isn’t a normal endorsement deal for Crawford, but he would sign a contract with Big Baller Brand down the line that would allow him to be under the brand yet have the freedom to pursue his own personal endeavors.
Crawford and the brand are expected to continue talks toward a deal, sources said. Big Baller Brand is an apparel company that was started by LaVar Ball and named for his sons, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball.
Darius Bazley, who announced last month that he was forgoing his college eligibility to enter the upcoming NBA G League draft, could supplement his pro salary with endorsement deals, but has not begun that process yet, he tells ESPN "There's no shoe deal I'm considering," Bazley said. "I haven't been contacted by anybody yet."
While the draft likely won't be held until October, Bazley could begin making money now with endorsement deals, but he remains focused on his on-court prospects. "If the opportunity does present itself and I do have an agent by [the G League season], then we'll discuss things and try to get the best deal out of it for both sides," he said. "I'm still working on things agent wise with my family."
San Antonio Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard will likely be pondering a super max contract extension over the summer, but off the court, talks between he and Jordan Brand on a new shoe deal have stalled, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.
Jordan Brand, a division of Nike, and Leonard's representatives came "very close" to completion on a new four-year extension worth more than $20 million. But discussions broke down abruptly because representatives for Leonard didn't feel that the new deal reflected the forward's accomplishments and standing within the league, sources said.
It's unclear whether Leonard intends to leave Jordan Brand when his contract expires on Oct. 1, but a source close to the situation said the shoe company owns the right to match any competing offers. Once the brand's exclusive negotiating window closes in July, Leonard and his representatives can start fielding potential new offers from other companies. Pitches are typically held in late August and early September, as players historically look to resolve shoe deals before the start of training camp in late September. Jordan Brand would have 10 business days to match any competing offer sheet signed by the forward. There are no current talks between Jordan Brand and Leonard's representatives, sources said.
Nick DePaula: Houston Rockets wing Gerald Green has agreed to a multi-year shoe deal with Adidas, worth six figures per year. Received multiple offers and deal was negotiated by @ISEworldwide. pic.twitter.com/vadDqwiVf4
Erik Horne: Paul George on Russell Westbrook Court: “It’s cool other than Under Armour. Other than Under Armour, it’s pretty nice.” George is a Nike guy. UCLA has an apparel deal with Under Armour.
Jay King: I asked Terry Rozier about the report Adidas terminated his shoe contract because he wore Nikes. "Sometimes your ex gets your number and they bring up your past," he said.
No active player sells more of his signature shoes than LeBron James, who has been in the Nike stable since he entered the NBA in 2003. King James’ earns more than $30 million annually from Nike, and his lifetime deal with the Beaverton, Oregon shoe giant could eventually net him more than $1 billion, according to his business manager Maverick Carter. James is the NBA’s highest-paid player for the fourth straight year at $85.3 million, including $52 million off the court from endorsements and royalties (Kobe Bryant was the last player to out-earn James).
Stephen Curry ranks second with earnings of $76.7 million. The two-time MVP signed the NBA's first $200 million contract last summer. The five-year deal guarantees $201 million from the Warriors. Curry's salary nearly tripled this season and is tops in the NBA for the first time. His endorsement partners include Under Armour, Chase, Vivo, eHi, Nissan/Infiniti, Brita, Bubble and JBL and will generate an estimated $42 million in off-court income for Curry.
Kevin Garnett is returning to AND1 for the first time since 2003. He’ll serve as AND1’s Global Ambassador as the brand gets ready to celebrate its 25th anniversary, about 15 years after he had two signature sneakers with AND1. “I’m thrilled to get back to my roots and partner with AND1, one of the best basketball brands in the industry,” KG said, via press release. “We have many initiatives underway that we’ll be launching, including my new capsule collection, which I’m particularly excited about.”
In early January, though, Wall announced that he was reuniting with Adidas. According to documents obtained by SI, Wall’s deal calls for him to be paid, in principle, a base of $4.825 million in 2017-2018; which then increases marginally and returns to $4.825 million in 2021-22. (While Wall will not have a signature shoe with Adidas, this deal permits him to collaborate on footwear with fellow clients like Kanye West and Pharrell, a likelihood, his representatives tell SI.)
Another significant term of the agreement pertains to Wall’s health. Under most footwear and apparel contracts, athletes face reductions and pro-rations when they are injured and unable to perform. But thanks to a bit of savvy by Wall’s representatives (or a curious concession by Adidas), Wall is subject to no reductions or pro-rations for the first two years. Not until 2019-2020, must he play a minimum of 60 games to avoid pro-ration. Wall’s new Adidas deal was announced on Jan. 7. On Jan. 30, Wall announced that he would undergo surgery on his left knee—described as a “clean up”—that would sideline him until March, causing him to miss up to 20 games, as well as All-Star festivities. (Through his agent, Rich Paul, Wall declined comment. Adidas also declined comment, citing the contract’s confidentiality provision.)
Rose’s agents were aggressively renegotiating his deal with Adidas, and during All-Star weekend Rose re-signed, consecrating one of the most lucrative endorsement contracts (reported to be worth $185 million over 14 years) in the history of sports. Recently SI obtained his 40-page contract with Adidas, and the document shows just how far shoe companies are willing to go to accommodate an athlete. The deal called for annual retainers of $12 million per season from 2012–13 until ’16–17. (This season, he is entitled to $11 million.) It also included annual royalties of up to $6.25 million per year, as much as $4.8 million in annual appearance fees and use of a private plane. (For comparison, SI has learned that John Wall's new Adidas deal calls for him to be a paid a base salary of $4 million). Reggie Rose, Derrick’s older brother, is paid between $250,000 and $300,000 annually as a consultant. Randall Hampton, Rose’s best friend since sixth grade and his assistant, is paid between $50,000 and $75,000 annually for “consulting” services. Adidas also pledged to contribute $150,000 annually to the AAU team of Rose’s choice.
Like most endorsement contracts, Rose’s calls for reductions and pro-rations. In this case, if Rose fails to make the All-Star team (as he has every year since 2012) or misses more than half the 82 regular-season games (as he did in ’12–13 and ’13–14 and is on pace to do this season), he can be docked pay. But unlike most contracts, Rose’s has clauses nullifying said deductions if he makes various promotional appearances.
Adidas’s treatment of Rose is especially perplexing given how closely the company has held other players to the letter of their contracts. On Jan. 18, 2016, Celtics guard Terry Rozier signed a deal that, according to documents provided to SI, guaranteed him $300,000 over three seasons. During the 2017 Eastern Conference finals, Rozier wore Nikes during a pregame shootaround. He changed into Adidas shoes for the game, but his public appearance in a rival brand did not escape notice. In a letter delivered by FedEx last May 26, Adidas’s legal counsel Monique Hawthorne notified Rozier, “Adidas is terminating your Agreement effective immediately.” (According to Rozier’s representatives, they plan to arbitrate Adidas’s decision.)
Derrick Rose’s agents were aggressively renegotiating his deal with Adidas, and during All-Star weekend Rose re-signed, consecrating one of the most lucrative endorsement contracts (reported to be worth $185 million over 14 years) in the history of sports. Recently SI obtained his 40-page contract with Adidas, and the document shows just how far shoe companies are willing to go to accommodate an athlete. The deal called for annual retainers of $12 million per season from 2012–13 until ’16–17. (This season, he is entitled to $11 million.) It also included annual royalties of up to $6.25 million per year, as much as $4.8 million in annual appearance fees and use of a private plane.
Adidas’s treatment of Derrick Rose is especially perplexing given how closely the company has held other players to the letter of their contracts. On Jan. 18, 2016, Celtics guard Terry Rozier signed a deal that, according to documents provided to SI, guaranteed him $300,000 over three seasons. During the 2017 Eastern Conference finals, Rozier wore Nikes during a pregame shootaround. He changed into Adidas shoes for the game, but his public appearance in a rival brand did not escape notice. In a letter delivered by FedEx last May 26, Adidas’s legal counsel Monique Hawthorne notified Rozier, “Adidas is terminating your Agreement effective immediately.” (According to Rozier’s representatives, they plan to arbitrate Adidas’s decision.)
Chase Hughes: John Wall said there could be John Wall 3s coming out as part of his new contract with Adidas, but he believes he will need to play his way into that.
After playing the past two seasons without a sneaker endorsement deal, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall has signed a new five-year shoe deal with Adidas, sources confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday. Terms of the deal, which was first reported by Yahoo Sports, haven't been disclosed, though Wall is expected to re-emerge with the brand as a headlining athlete for several of its new modernized lifestyle basketball silhouettes.
The four-time NBA All-Star returns to Adidas after a hiatus that saw him leave the company in late 2015 amid stalling extension talks. Shortly before being selected No. 1 in the 2010 NBA draft, Wall signed a five-year endorsement deal with Reebok that paid him a base salary of $2.5 million per year but could have ballooned to as high as $25 million in total through a variety of performance and sales incentives.
Shams Charania: Sources: Washington Wizards All-Star John Wall has agreed to a five-year endorsement deal with Adidas. Wall returns to the brand after testing shoe free agency over the past couple years.
Bad news for the Big Baller Brand ... at least one of Lonzo's Lakers' teammates says he won't be playing in the new ZO2s. We spoke with Julius Randle outside Mastro's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills -- when he told us he's got a deal with Nike ... and he ain't about to mess that up.
He is a spokesman for chocolate milk and an obscure — in the U.S. anyway — Chinese shoe company. He signed an $80 million, 10-year extension to wear the sneakers. “Life’s good,” Thompson said. “I never thought I’d get paid millions of dollars to wear shoes and apparel. I’m very proud to be a part of Anta. ... It’s so cool that I’m big in China. I never thought I’d be on billboards and posters in China.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo: Family. Loyalty. Legacy. Excited to announce my long-term partnership with @NikeBasketball #FamilyOverEverything #Antetokoumbros #OnAMission @thanasis_ante43 @kostas__ante13 @alex_ante29 @francisadetokunbo
Just as LeBron has been chasing Michael Jordan's ghost as the game's preeminent icon, Antetokounmpo is drawing comparisons to James -- on the court, at least. Though Antetokounmpo is starting to realize that his exceptional talent makes him a marketable product, his inclinations as a professional thus far bear little resemblance to LeBron Inc. Antetokounmpo will almost certainly be on a first name basis with the public -- as much a function of syllables as stardom -- but there are few entrepreneurial ambitions. At a recent round of meetings with leading shoe companies, representatives pitched Antetokounmpo by citing their campaigns and brand-building for other NBA stars. Antetokounmpo, according to those with intimate knowledge of the meetings, found the approach perplexing. These stars were his competitors, and the notion of using their brands or personas as a template seemed backward.
Me: I wanted to ask you about your shoe deal with Li Ning, and how you researched that before you decided. What was important to you? CJ McCollum: A lot of things were important. I think the biggest thing is going somewhere where you’re wanted and needed. I always say that mutual admiration. It’s kind of how I chose Lehigh, and Lehigh chose me. It was a situation where we both felt like we could help each other, help one another, them being a big brand in a place like Asia, having that big influence and being able to help them branch out to the United States -- more specifically, Portland, Oregon, and Canton, Ohio, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Obviously those cities will become more familiar with the brand.
CJ McCollum: Overall, I’m thankful for the opportunity. As a kid growing up in Canton, Ohio, you never see yourself in a position to play in the NBA, much less have somebody pay you to wear shoes. It’s a blessing in itself. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to represent a brand, and hopefully reach out and gain more information on them, and them gain more information on players in the United States, and little kids. Guys like DWade and ET (Evan Turner), guys who’ve been in the brand before me, have been very helpful telling me about the brand, and informing me on ways to improve. Telling me about what China’s going to be like, having gone there in the past. I’m looking forward to it.
Jovan Buha: Big Baller Brand is debuting the "ZO2 Collection" apparel line for Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball today at ComplexCon in Long Beach, Calif. According to the company, the "ZO2 Collection" is the first line of Big Baller Brand products to be offered wholesale to retailers. Up to this point, all Big Brand Brand products have been sold exclusively on BigBallerBrand.com.
Jovan Buha: Big Baller Brand is still in negotiation with retailers, so they can't speak on any potential partnerships yet, according to the company. The "ZO2 Collection" will feature a mix of activewear and street wear, including shirts, jeans, plaid flannels, track pants and joggers.
After receiving strong interest from several footwear brands, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine has agreed to terms with Adidas on a four-year endorsement deal that could be worth as much as $35 million, industry sources told ESPN.
LaVine, 22, has yet to play this season as he recovers from a torn left ACL suffered in February, but hopes to be the future face of both the Bulls franchise and the Adidas brand. "I was looking for a partner that would grow with me as my career continues to unfold," LaVine said to ESPN. "Adidas convinced me that I have a chance to legitimately become a face of the brand."
The deal is also structured in a way to reward LaVine, a two-time Slam Dunk Contest champion who averaged 18.9 points a game last season with the Timberwolves, should he break out as an All-Star level player once he returns from the injury. "It's a different contract than anything we've done recently," said a brand source.
Financial details aside, McCollum was looking for a brand that would feature him and allow him to be involved in curating his own products going forward. Outside of creating his own custom colorways of Kyrie Irving's shoe on Nike's iD website from time to time, developing his own product would be all new territory for the rising guard, who was named the league's Most Improved Player in 2015. "I didn't know much about it at all, honestly," McCollum said of sneaker deals when he was first drafted. "Watching from afar, and being a fan from afar, I didn't necessarily understand the negotiating side of it and the contract structure of how players go from rookie deals to the next deal. As you go through the NBA, you get a decent understanding of it."
McCollum also got advice from Blazers teammate Evan Turner, who has a long-term deal with Li-Ning and happens to sit directly next to McCollum in the Blazers' locker room. "I just kept it real with him, what I liked about the brand and how I thought we could get better," Turner said. "As his star was rising, I told him I thought it'd be advantageous for him to partner with an up-and-coming brand."
Nick DePaula: Raptors All-Star guard @DeMar DeRozan agreed to a multi-year shoe deal extension with Nike before the season, and will wear custom Kobe sneakers all year. Good look at his grey/red Kobe AD PE tonight: pic.twitter.com/FJYh3tGOLd
Wasserman NBA agents completed more than half a billion dollars in playing contracts and shoe deals for clients in recent months. That number includes about $250 million in shoe contracts, including Phoenix Suns rookie forward Josh Jackson’s deal with Under Armour, which was announced before he was taken No. 4 in the draft.
They were not the only Warriors here mixing preseason basketball with the business of basketball. All-Star guard Klay Thompson has his eight-year, $80 million shoe deal with Anta, a Chinese-based company that hosted his promotional event in Shenzhen. All-Star forward Draymond Green is sponsored by Nike as well, though he turned his attention to the cap company, New Era, for a Friday event in Shanghai. “When we come over here and we have guys go to practice and they leave and say, 'I've got a Nike event over here, and I've got an Under Armour event over here,’ " Curry told USA TODAY Sports. "You just respect what everybody is doing, and we all have the space to impact people."
When Curry isn't wrestling for space in China with Bryant, he is burying the notion that a burgeoning shoe war with Durant could impact the Warriors' harmony. “This world is huge, and there's enough space for all of us,” Curry said during the trip that concluded on Sunday. “We're all different. We're all unique. We all have different stories, and we try to bring that to life with the things we represent from a product standpoint, and a brand standpoint. "(The idea of) whether it's a competition, or this kind of inner locker room rivalry, or a battle of whose shoes are the most popular and all that kind of stuff, it's not.”
CJ McCollum and Li-Ning announced Friday that the 6-4 guard out of Lehigh had signed a multi-year endorsement deal to join the Chinese sportswear company. McCollum, who was previously with Nike, now joins the likes of Dwyane Wade and teammate Evan Turner as NBA athletes under the Li-Ning umbrella.
CJ McCollum: I'm excited to announce my new parternship with the Li-Ning family. With hard work.. Anything is possible
Nick DePaula: Blazers guard @CJ McCollum confirms he's signed a multi-year shoe deal with Chinese brand Li-Ning. Nike had "matching rights" and declined to match. CJ will wear the YuShuai 11 and other Li-Ning sneakers this season.
Nick DePaula: CJ McCollum's Blazers teammate Evan Turner has been with Li-Ning since his rookie year and helped recruit and inform CJ about the brand. Other Li-Ning NBA athletes include Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Glenn Robinson III & Frank Mason III.
Nick DePaula: If Giannis signs with adidas, Nike still has a "match clause" on the deal. If they pass, he'd likely wear Crazy Explosive Low this season.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is spending the week walking through brand pitches from companies looking to position him as the future of basketball -- a sharp rise for a 22-year-old player who only entered the league in 2013 as an unknown prospect from Greece.
In conversations this week with Adidas, Nike and Li-Ning, each is offering a signature shoe that would likely launch during the 2018-19 NBA season. For this upcoming year, he'd lead a series of player exclusive editions in Bucks hues of each brand's current featured models, like the Adidas Crazy Explosive 2017, Nike Kobe A.D. or Li-Ning Yu Shuai 11.
While the incumbent Nike and potentially poaching Adidas are the two mainstays in the conversation, Chinese brand Li-Ning remains a dark horse to take seriously. The company's last major signing was then-Heat superstar Dwyane Wade in the fall of 2012, but it's looking to refresh and re-energize its roster of athletes. The offer the company is expected to make would certainly rank highest among the three pursuing brands at more than eight figures annually. The contract could also possibly feature an equity or stock component.
Russell Westbrook, the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player, will look to continue to establish himself as one of the league's top global superstars, inking a 10-year extension with Nike's Jordan Brand that will be the most lucrative total endorsement deal for a Jordan athlete to date, according to industry sources. After first signing a five-year endorsement deal in 2013, Westbrook has been positioned as the face of the brand and the annual Air Jordan model each subsequent season. During that stretch, he also elevated his game yearly as the franchise point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As he meets with brands over the coming weeks, LaVine is expected to decide on his next endorsement partner by the end of the month, eventually starting the 10-day clock for Nike to decide whether or not to match the contract offer. "For the next phase of his career, Zach is looking for an organic partnership where the brand's belief and vision is genuine and aligned with his," Namakian said. "He wants to be a creative and engaged partner working together in continuing to grow his brand globally."
After spending his first three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, an offseason move to the Chicago Bulls could see Zach LaVine cash in as he looks for a new sneaker-endorsement deal heading into the 2017-18 season. The deal LaVine signed with Nike as a rookie expires at the end of this month, and the move to Chicago meant an overnight rise in intrigue from a handful of brands looking to sign him even as he recovers from February surgery to repair a torn ACL. "The interest in Zach from a brand perspective was instantly raised when he went from being the third option in a small market to the primary option in a legacy market," said Nima Namakian, LaVine's agent at BDA Sports.
However, Nike is expected to aggressively look to make its own initial offer in the coming weeks to retain LaVine. Adidas, looking to retool its roster of NBA players and add more explosive wing players, is also interested in signing LaVine, who wore adidas sneakers while at UCLA. Known by fans in China for his two instant classic NBA Slam Dunk Contest performances, LaVine has also emerged as the top target of Chinese brands Li-Ning, Anta and Peak. "He's the only player we'll pitch this year," said one brand source in China.
At the time, the brand had hoped that Timberwolves rising phenom Andrew Wiggins could fill that role, but internally there has been strong hesitation about whether Wiggins could carry his own signature shoe. Antetokounmpo's game is already more established and more accomplished, leading the company to look at making a massive offer that could steal him away from Nike. Adidas is enjoying momentum in other categories as a brand and hasn't been shy in offering monster deals in the past to its top priorities, such as the 13-year deal to Harden and the seven-year contract to Porzingis.
With his adidas deal, Mitchell joins a growing stable of very young, very cool players like Brandon Ingram, Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, Jaylen Brown, Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, James Harden and Damian Lillard. Considering he didn’t even think he would be in the NBA at this point, the fact that he’s got a sneaker deal is another milestone that came way quicker than anticipated. “When my agents and I were talking about the sneaker deal, I thought it was going to be the typical agent meeting where they promise you a shoe deal and you’re like, Alright, I’m not that good, this is for guys who are big-time,” says Mitchell. “So when it happened, I was like, Wow, you were right, it did happen! It was a no-brainer going with adidas and I’m blessed and happy to be in this position and hope to keep representing them for a long period of time.”
Antetokounmpo's days as a bargain are numbered, and not just because his 4-year, $100 million extension with the Bucks kicks in this fall. Once September comes to a close, his current footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Nike is set to expire, making him the clear-cut headliner of the available NBA players looking for a new shoe deal heading into next season.
"The bar was set with Porzingis, in terms of financials," says one brand source. Some industry sources feel the Greek Freak could be looking at as much as $7-10 million annually on a new five-year endorsement deal.
His jersey's got the Swoosh ... but Lonzo Ball says he's still a BBB guy at heart -- and the proof is on his feet. The L.A. Lakers rookie was at an NBA rookie photo shoot with teammate, Kyle Kuzma, when they started showing off their new Lakers uniforms, made by Nike.
Jeff Zillgitt: Under Armour makes deal with Dennis Smith Jr. official via press release. Company says Smith's attributes align with UA Basketball.
The most marketable NBA players are typically guards. Players with the ball in their hands -- explosive attackers with an endless flair to their game. As kids look up to and spend endless hours in front-yard hoops emulating their every move, brands are left constantly looking for the next great athletes who can translate into equally great endorsers. Dennis Smith Jr. checks all of those boxes, leading Under Armour to sign the Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard and No. 9 overall 2017 draft pick to a three-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal worth as much as $2 million per year with incentives, according to sources. The brand plans to incorporate him immediately as one of its key featured basketball players right out the gate.
"The first time that I saw Dennis Smith at camp was when Stephen ran out of the gym after he tried to dunk on somebody," Stone said with a laugh. "Dennis got so high -- his elbow was at the rim. It was unbelievable. That was my first time experiencing what Dennis can bring to the table in terms of explosiveness. The reaction that Stephen had was ridiculous. Stephen was coming off of an MVP season and an NBA championship, and here he is, watching a high school kid own the moment and respecting it."
If Lonzo Ball had been interested in signing a traditional endorsement deal, brands were expected to initially offer at least $1.5 million per year. That would be in line with offers made to fellow rookies Markelle Fultz, De'Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson. After being drafted by the Lakers as the second overall pick, Ball's base number realistically could have escalated to more than $2.5 million per year, according to multiple brand sources.
After each stateside brand passed on expressing interest, Big Baller Brand engaged China-based athletic brand Anta to discuss a potential partnership. Anta currently has traditional sponsorship deals with Klay Thompson and Rajon Rondo, and made signature shoes for Kevin Garnett for his final seven seasons in the league. After a "round of conversations," according to a source, Anta declined repeated requests for a follow-up meeting after Big Baller Brand presented them with a private label manufacturing concept.
Since launching the $495 pre-order edition of the ZO2 sneaker, along with an autographed $995 "collector's edition," Big Baller Brand is on the hook to both manufacture and deliver the shoe to customers by the Nov. 24 promised ship date. More than 700 pairs have already been ordered. All things considered -- sky-high price, six-month shipping delay, brand that has never before made a shoe -- it's a respectable number that beat out the expectations of several rival industry sources.
Asked whether there's still a chance that a big shoe brand can sign his son Lonzo Ball, LaVar responded: "If the price is right. Quite frankly we are officially in the shoe game, and are a billion dollar brand either way."
In negotiations with the big brands -- Nike, adidas and Under Armour -- LaVar made it known that he was looking for $1 billion and wanted those brands to sublicense his Big Baller Brand. The shoe brands quickly passed. Days later, the first Big Baller Brand shoes launched on the company website. Industry sources indicate that a deal for Ball from the traditional companies originally fell in the $1.5 million a year range. Playing on the Lakers, plus the power of his holdout, could boost that up over $2 million a year.
Klay Thompson has signed a 10-year extension with Chinese shoe brand Anta that will pay him as much as $80 million, according to a report from Nice Kicks. Thompson originally signed his deal in 2014 for $2 million per year until 2020 but renegotiated the terms.
“I didn’t know much about Anta,” Thompson said on the podcast Nice Kicks Cast. “One of my agent’s client’s, Rajon (Rondo) was with them, and he said this brand had incredible potential and that the Chinese market, as well, was something that I could really dive into. “Knowing that these guys got my back and they want me to be a lifer, that’s special. Not a lot of guys sign shoe deals like this. I’m very, very happy to be with Anta.”
Nick DePaula: Exclusive: Klay Thompson signs 10-year extension with Anta worth up to $80 Million, making him a Top10 NBA endorser
LI Shuangfu: Anta extends its endorsement contract through 2026-27 season with Klay Thompson, sources told Lanxiong Sports.
Josh Jackson has signed an endorsement deal with Under Armour. Under Armour, home of Stephen Curry most notably, last signed a major draft prospect in 2015 with Emmanuel Mudiay.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Potential No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has agreed to a multi-year endorsement deal with Nike, source tells @TheVertical.
The “Greek Freak” kicks of a new four-year, $100 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks next season. Antetokounmpo will also likely be armed with a new shoe deal. He is by far the hottest free agent this summer in the sneaker market and insiders think he could command a deal of at least $8 million annually and potentially over $10 million if everything breaks right. Credit his age, 22, and unique skill set, which has made him one of the NBA’s most alluring young stars.
The headline numbers on new shoe deals are often inflated and include bonuses and optimistic royalty payouts. The yearly guarantees are often much lower and can include reductions if sales tank. Below is a breakdown of Forbes’ estimates on what the NBA’s biggest stars—past, present and future—earned on their shoe deals over the past 12 months, including bonuses and royalties, based on conversations with industry insiders. Michael Jordan: $110 million, Nike (Jordan) Jordan hung up his high-tops for the third and final time in 2003, but he is still the king of the basketball shoe market. Sales of the Air Jordan XXXI have been soft, but the retro Jordan business remains strong. Nike’s Jordan revenues were $2.8 billion for the fiscal year ending May 2016, up 18% over the previous 12 months. Jordan's net worth is $1.3 billion. Thanks Nike.
LeBron James: $32 million, Nike King James has talked about wanting to be a billionaire. Nike should help him get there someday. James entered the NBA in 2003 armed with the biggest shoe deal ever handed out to a rookie. The seven-year deal eventually paid out more than $100 million. Interestingly, James’ agent at the time, Aaron Goodwin, also negotiated the second-biggest rookie shoe deal ever with Kevin Durant's 2007 pact.
Nick DePaula: Lottery pick De'Aaron Fox has agreed to a multi-year shoe deal with Nike, sources tell @TheVertical. The UK PG was a top target for brands.
Those stars waited until they were stars to cut out the middleman. But already LaVar's called out: the shoe companies, the NCAA, AAU basketball teams run by shoe companies, retail stores taking a cut of shoe and merchandise sales -- basically all the gatekeepers of the world he's trying (to conquer. Is he trying to change the system or work it? That might not matter, as long as at least one of his sons lives up to the hype he's created for them. "People don't understand the movement," he says. "This is a power play to show everybody, 'Yo, we don't need you to make this s -- .'"
Nick DePaula: Jordan Brand has signed Guo Ailun, its first ever Chinese Basketball Association endorser. Will pay the 23 year-old PG over $1.4 Mil per yr. pic.twitter.com/AhFesRO11Z
Jeff Goodman: Potential No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz is meeting with adidas today, source told ESPN.
Former two-time NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury is still selling his Starbury shoes in stores in China and online in America starting at $14.98 after originally joining forces with the now-defunct Steve & Barry’s sporting goods store in 2006. If LaVar Ball, father of NBA prospect Lonzo Ball, hopes to get his Big Baller Brand going without the help of the major shoe companies, Marbury could offer some advice. “I would listen to what [LaVar Ball] had to say, definitely, if he called,” Marbury told The Undefeated from China. “It’s the delivery, that’s all. Sometimes people can’t accept the delivery. But I understand, because it’s his own feelings. I don’t agree with everything that he is saying, but I understand what he is saying.”
Ball has said that he would reach out to Chinese brands. What advice would you give to him? Marbury: Come rock with us. We know the structure that is needed. We don’t have the capital, but with my brand we have the resources for what is needed from the manufacturing side in China. He doesn’t have to do something with Starbury. We could work together where we can help put them into the position to speak to all the people who have that access to do what they want in China. I’m not saying I want him to come under my umbrella and be with Starbury, but I can position them by setting them up with the people that they need to speak to in order to create their infrastructure if they want to infuse capital into themselves.
LaVar Ball’s attempts to score a lucrative licensing deal between Big Baller Brand and Nike, Adidas or Under Armour have not worked out heading into the NBA draft. So, as of right now, Lonzo — a potential top-3 pick — is without a shoe deal from any of the three brands that control 99 percent of the NBA shoe market. LaVar isn’t worried though. On Tuesday, LaVar snapped back to the criticism his brand has received with a tweet on his newly verified Twitter account.
Adidas, which sponsored UCLA this past season along with the Chino Hills (Calif.) High School basketball team that features younger Ball brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo, has yet to formally discuss a shoe deal with Ball Sports Group. “It’s not dead yet,” a brand source told The Vertical. An official meeting would potentially take place in the coming weeks, with the brand not yet ruling out making a standard endorsement offer.
One of the players expected to be drafted at the very top of the board is UCLA star freshman point guard Lonzo Ball. He is represented by Harrison Gaines as part of the newly formed Ball Sports Group. Gaines is a former employee at Impact Sports, where he worked alongside primary agents on contracts for NBA players Kawhi Leonard and Will Barton. Ball is also being represented in brand negotiations by Ball Sports Group’s founder – his outspoken father, LaVar – sources told The Vertical.
Lonzo has received preliminary interest over the past year from the three current major sneaker brands outfitting NBA players: Nike, adidas and Under Armour. None of the brands have expressed a direct interest in LaVar’s “co-branding partnership” concept, which would license the family’s Big Baller Brand for Lonzo’s footwear to then be manufactured by a partner, multiple industry sources told The Vertical.
An endorsement deal with Nike, Under Armour or Adidas is not in the cards for Lonzo Ball. Ball's father LaVar confirmed that the three shoe and apparel companies informed him that they were not interested in doing a deal with his son. Sources with the three companies told ESPN.com that they indeed were moving on.
Now that the traditional shoe companies are out, Ball said he will reach out to the Chinese brands, which include Peak, Li-Ning and Anta, and he's not counting out taking on an entrepreneurial partner outside the business.
Never in the history of modern day shoe endorsements have the big companies all stepped away from a potential top pick nearly two months before the NBA draft. But the proposition that LaVar, who has been representing Lonzo on the deal, was offering also has no precedence.
September 22, 2021 | 11:35 am EDT Update
Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers wants to change Ben Simmons’ mind. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the star guard has told the team that he will not report to training camp next week and does not plan to play for the franchise again. “Well, I hope we can change that thought,” Rivers said on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill, and Max on Wednesday morning. “That’s part of our job.”
Marc Farzetta: “We hear it all, but we’re not going to give up on that…I just love how [Ben Simmons] plays. I love a lot of the things that he does for the team…but we have to go through all this to get him back” -Sixers Coach Doc Rivers on @FirstTake
While Rivers wants to change the narrative, he hasn’t had much of a chance this offseason. He was asked how much he’s talked to Simmons. “Not much, but we’ve had some,” he said. “And I get his feelings. I understand where he’s at right now, but we’re going to keep trying to work on it to get him in the right place.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Free agent G Theo Pinson will go to training camp with the Boston Celtics, sources tell ESPN. Pinson spent parts of his first three NBA seasons with the Nets and Knicks.
Michael Scotto: The Houston Rockets signed Dante Exum to a three-year deal worth $16.22 million if he achieves all bonuses in his contract, league sources told @HoopsHype. Years two and three are non-guaranteed.
Keith Smith: Dante Exum’s contract features likely bonuses, unlikely bonuses and non-guaranteed salary! Current cap hits: 22-23: $5,000,000 23-24: $5,000,000 24-25: $5,000,000 $6.9M in likely bonuses, $1,215,000 in unlikely bonuses. Final two seasons are both fully non-guaranteed. @spotrac
Did you ever wonder what would’ve happened if you didn’t have that injury? Brandon Jennings: I would’ve been an All-Star for sure if I didn’t tear my Achilles, and I believe we would have made the playoffs that year in Detroit, and then I’d end up getting paid. That probably would’ve happened. Then again, who knows what happens after that? I feel like with the injury, that’s when the chaos started happening outside of my career. I felt like with the money, it would’ve probably been more chaos.
When you had that 55-point game, what stuck out to you about it? Was that your favorite NBA moment? Brandon Jennings: The 55-point game was still something I can’t explain. I just got hot, and the ball was just going in. I only scored 10 points in the first half, and I had a terrible first quarter. I just came out in the second half hot. I’m sure everybody is like, that should be your favorite game, but one of my favorite games ever was my first game in the NBA when I almost had a triple-double in Philly. I didn’t know if I was going to start. He told me I was going to start the day before.