Storyline: Sneaker Deals

515 rumors in this storyline

Although Nike retained a few players, most of its marketing dollars were allocated to Jordan, and it paid off. The Air Jordan Is debuted in March 1985, and by the end of that year, according to Darren Rovell, the Jordan franchise had generated more than $100 million in revenue. “We were sad, but we saw the potential for Michael when he was coming out of college and playing for Team USA in ’84, and he was an exciting new player on the market, so we couldn’t blame Nike for putting all their eggs in that basket,” says Thompson, who later signed with LA Gear. “I used to tell him, ‘Man, you’re the reason why Nike cut me.’ I would tell him, ‘They choose the wrong Michael.’ ”

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New Balance Basketball announced today the endorsement deal with San Antonio Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray. To officially welcome him to the New Balance family, Murray is featured in a new commercial spot where he “inspires us with a little motivation” and reveals the black and white OMN1S colorway “Lights Out” launching globally December 4th. The commercial’s tone is tongue-in-cheek, set by Murray naming himself a “hair icon” – but his message is from the heart. He dispenses motivational tidbits like “success isn’t a straight line” and “find your own path”, but these truisms find real meaning for a player like Murray, whose road to starting point guard has been anything but conventional. Before Murray earned a reputation as a rising star in the league and an endorsement deal with global athletic leader New Balance, he had to first put in the work.


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.

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.'”

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.”

Kevon Looney signs with Anta

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.
8 months ago via ESPN

Shoe deal for Zion Williamson before NBA draft lottery?

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.
8 months ago via ESPN

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.

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.
1 year ago via ESPN

“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.
More HoopsHype Rumors
December 8, 2019 | 10:59 am UTC Update
The Knicks did some due diligence on Jackson’s Warriors tenure prior to hiring Fizdale. It’s unclear how far along Jackson got in the process with New York. But the idea that they chose Fizdale over Jackson, an ex-Knick who would have been mostly embraced by the fan base, is telling. According to sources, there are members of the organization who remain wary of hiring Jackson.
Storyline: Mark Jackson to Knicks?
As Love went through his customary stretching routine prior to the game, cleveland.com spoke with him about a lack of touches recently, pointing out that they’ve declined significantly since a terrific few early weeks. It was about trying to get a better explanation and deciphering whether opponents have sent more defenders in his direction. Leading into Saturday’s matchup, everyone in the organization admitted he needed to become the focal point again. Beilein said when Love touches the ball, “good things happen.”
Three winters ago, Doc Rivers was ready to be done. He was throwing up constantly. His energy evaporated. Pounds dropped off his body. Rivers needed to get IVs before he coached the Clippers. He no longer looked like the tough-as-hell guard who made a name for himself on defense. He looked frail. And tired. And miserable. “It was awful,” he said. “That was a tough stretch. I almost thought about quitting because I had no energy. … And I thought it definitely affected my day-to-day ability to coach — and to live. You’re always tired. This job is tiring. And then you’re sick on top of it. I didn’t do any favors for myself.”
Prisoners of a lifestyle that tempts coaches with a constant barrage of food and adrenaline, little sleep and an overflow of stress, the NBA’s coaches battle wellness problems that they all easily could succumb to. “By the end of the season, if you were 6 feet tall when it started, now you’re 5-foot-2,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “It just wears you down and you just have to somehow focus on yourself and your health.”
Rivers no longer drinks after games. Portland coach Terry Stotts will go home and watch a show like “Madam Secretary” with his wife. Brooks’ training staff told him to quit eating a giant bowl of cereal before his late-night film sessions. “The biggest challenge is to take care of yourself physically,” Brooks said. “Like everything else, you have so many things on your plate and you forget about yourself.”
According to NBA insiders, there is a belief that coaches who are in shape are much easier to hire and more credible in a room full of athletically gifted players in peak physical condition. To be considered for jobs, coaches often are advised to lose weight and buy nicer clothes because appearances matter. And some believe any hint of an issue with mental wellness would torpedo a prospective coach’s candidacy.
Paschall recently joined radio play-by-play announcer Tim Roye on his “Beyond the Arc” podcast and discussed what it was like moving to the Bay Area after growing up in New York. “One thing I definitely like about it is the weather, it’s not too cold,” he said. “I’ve realized everybody is a lot nicer out here. Everybody says hello, I remember in my apartment building, people were just like, ‘How was your day?’ I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ This is weird for me, especially from the East Coast because everybody is so uptight, but it’s something that’s really cool.”
December 8, 2019 | 2:55 am UTC Update
Will the Knicks have a shot at landing Ujiri? That’s unclear. But once the Knicks started struggling last month, multiple Madison Square Garden people in positions of influence have been ‘obsessed’ with – and ‘enamored’ by – the Raptors executive, per SNY sources. In order to land Ujiri, it will probably take significant money and full autonomy. Whether Knicks owner James Dolan will grant that kind of autonomy remains to be seen.
Storyline: Knicks Front Office
At the time, the belief was that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka negotiated Howard’s contract to be non-guaranteed so that the team could ties with him if he didn’t buy into his role, but apparently that wasn’t the case. During an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump,” senior writer Ramona Shelburne said that it was Howard and his agent that suggested that his contract be non-guaranteed (emphasis mine): “I think with Dwight, it also goes back to why the Lakers signed that contract with him that way in the first place. Dwight asked for that. That was his idea. That wasn’t the Lakers saying ‘oh this is the only way we’ll do it.’ This was Dwight and his agent saying ‘yes, we’ll do non-guaranteed just to show you how committed we are to being this kind of player.’”
December 8, 2019 | 12:26 am UTC Update
Allan Houston, the Knicks former assistant general manager and now the GM of the Westchester Knicks, pushed hard to have Mike Miller considered to be the interim coach following David Fizdale’s firing. Houston has been with Miller since he was hired five seasons ago to coach the G-League team when Phil Jackson was president. Miller successfully ran the triangle for Jackson, then adapted when Jackson was let go.
December 7, 2019 | 10:52 pm UTC Update
There has certainly been a key dose of the latter, including Jimmy Butler’s desire to join the Heat even with Miami lacking any cap space (the Heat set the groundwork for that with its exemplary culture), and Dallas — in late June — bypassing a trade for Goran Dragic after the Dragic camp had been told he would probably need to be traded to accommodate the Butler transaction from a cap standpoint. “We’re all glad that deal didn’t happen,” one Heat official conceded privately, even more so because the inability to deal Dragic led to the jettisoning of Hassan Whiteside (a player the coaching staff didn’t want) to Portland.
The Heat studied him when he played at Oakland University, but he became a strong consideration in July 2018, when team officials were impressed by the diversity of his offensive game — and all-around skill set — while watching Nunn play for Golden State against Sacramento during NBA summer league. Nunn had already committed to the Warriors’ summer program by that point, and the Heat didn’t have a roster spot anyway, but from that point on, the Heat’s scouting staff decided to monitor him in the G-League, where he would average 19.3 points for Santa Cruz. What particularly stuck was the ease to his offensive game, the ability to score in multiple ways, and his willingness to defend.
The California Air Resources Board has granted fast-track approval to a proposed $1.2 billion Los Angeles Clippers arena in Inglewood that should allow the project to be finished in time for a 2024 basketball season. After nearly a year of back-and-forth negotiations, CARB determined last week that the project will not result in a net increase in greenhouse gases and, thus, qualifies for special protections from environmental lawsuits that could otherwise stall construction for years.
Storyline: New Clippers Arena
“CARB staff conducted an evaluation of the GHG emission estimates and reduction measures submitted by the applicant, and confirmed that the applicant’s methodology, calculations and documentation are adequate,” wrote Richard Corey, CARB’s executive director, in a letter to the governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Assembly Bill 987, a law passed specifically to move the Clippers project forward, required the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center to be net neutral and reduce 50 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions through local measures.
Salvador Amezcua, 32, is better known as “Kickstradomis,” among the top shoe artists in the game. Give him a pair of kicks, and in due time, you’ll get back an original piece of work, not unlike the kid who started making up his own comic books when he was four, growing up in L.A. A savvy disrupter, Kickstradomis’ creations are a staple throughout the NBA and NFL, and are now reaching into the music and film worlds as well. Among his more well-known clients are Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic, the Lakers’ Anthony Davis, Timberwolves All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, WNBA 2018 league and Finals MVP Breanna Stewart and L.A. Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He does all the work by hand, and the backlog is weeks long. Using movie characters, cartoons, any and everything that comes to mind, he can put them on a pair of shoes.
“Now, for 2020, everything’s going to shift a little differently,” he says. “I have to be more exclusive with the people I want to work with. I really choose to work with the guys who’ve been loyal to me, and we have mutual (desires), kind of both want the same things. There’s a few of these guys that really want to see me grow and they’ve helped me in different ways. Those are definitely the ones that I stick to. Luka’s one of them. Donovan Mitchell. KAT. Those are some of my closer guys. But then there’s the new young guys, the new generation.”
December 7, 2019 | 9:04 pm UTC Update
Influential voices in the NBA have strongly advised Ujiri not to take the job, if it’s ever offered, sources say. But those same sources say Ujiri might do it anyway, if the money is right, if he’s granted the necessary autonomy and if Dolan funds Giants of Africa as generously as the Raptors ownership group has. Ujiri’s contract is believed to run through 2021 but with an out clause under certain circumstances. He turned down a lucrative extension last summer, sources said, leaving the impression that he wants to keep his options open.
Storyline: Knicks Front Office
The Knicks have hired and fired five lead basketball executives since 2004, including legendary NBA figures from Isiah Thomas to Donnie Walsh to Phil Jackson. All departed under clouds of various shapes, sizes and despairing shades of gray. Maybe it will be different for the next guy. Maybe the Knicks get lucky and lure a gifted executive like Toronto’s Masai Ujiri to fix this mess. Some NBA sources believe it’s possible.
Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin went on the Pelicans in-game broadcast recently to talk about the return of Williamson and the team. There he said Williamson is progressing and added the obvious — that there will be some load management of Williamson upon his return. As there should be. “Yes, he very likely will not be asked to take the pounding of back-to-backs initially,” Griffin said on the team’s television broadcast. “There will be a sort of ramp-up for him to getting back to where you would call him full strength, but he’s certainly going to be playing, and we’re trying to win basketball games. And quite frankly, we’ve done a horrible job of that.”
Storyline: Zion Williamson Injury
They were not ha-ha-funny laughs. And they were not playful guffaws. Their laughs were more incredulous, those types of chuckles that come with a shake of the head and take the place of the words “can you believe this?” “We’ve been getting hit from every angle possible,” Kent Bazemore said. “Preseason on the road, 13 of the first 18 on the road, injuries. … I mean, it’s been a whirlwind.”
Even though he stands to gain from Hood’s injury — Hezonja will likely be one of the small forwards coach Terry Stotts turns to — Hezonja was consumed with the circumstances of Friday’s events. “I don’t even want to make a comment, that’s how bad I feel,” Hezonja said. “I mean, that’s Hoodie. From Day 1, he and I really bonded. You just don’t have teammates like that. He’s like a really outstanding person, so this really hurts me.”
Isaiah Thomas has missed the Wizards’ last two games with a left calf strain and it sounds like he will be out at least a little while longer. The Wizards guard caught up with NBC Sports Washington at his holiday toy giveaway at the Boys and Girls Club in Northwest D.C. on Saturday and gave an update on how he’s feeling. “I’m good,” he said. “I think I will be out a few more games and then be able to come back.”
Storyline: Isaiah Thomas Injury
December 7, 2019 | 7:25 pm UTC Update
With Knicks president Steve Mills on shaky ground until the club shows progress, owner James Dolan could make another run at Raptors president Masai Ujiri. According to a source, if Mills is fired after the season, Dolan likely would renew his quest for Ujiri, who built the Raptors 2019 title team. “Why wouldn’t he — he’s the best GM in the league,’’ one NBA source said.
Storyline: Knicks Front Office
December 7, 2019 | 5:30 pm UTC Update
The Knicks held a players-only meeting to rally support for their coach. But there was one problem: Fizdale was fired just hours later. Sources confirmed that Marcus Morris, who has been Fizdale’s top supporter in the locker room, led the session prior to Friday’s practice. It came on the heels of the Knicks getting blown out by the Nuggets on Thursday at the Garden.
Storyline: David Fizdale Firing