Nike announced Saturday it was canceling its 2020 Elite Youth Basketball League season because of the coronavirus pandemic, ending any chance the prestigious grassroots events would be played later in the summer or early in the fall. “As we continue to navigate the evolving impact of COVID-19, we are canceling the remainder of the 2020 EYBL season,” the company announced on its EYBL website. “This was not a decision taken lightly, but the health and safety of our athletes, families, fans and employees is our top priority. We look forward to bringing the EYBL back in 2021.”
The Swoosh is considering holding either one or multiple events for all 36 17U EYBL teams in June that would determine seeding for the Peach Jam in July, sources said. The June event(s) could potentially take place at one central location or at multiple regional sites in the East, South, Midwest and West. The June event would not be a qualifier, and would only determine seeding for Peach Jam. “The June event would be about making sure the Peach Jam pools are balanced,” one source said.
With LaMelo Ball reportedly open to signing a shoe contract outside of the Big Baller Brand, TMZ Sports has learned Nike has a serious interest in working with the 18-year-old. Our Nike sources tell us … the company is actively scouting the youngest Ball brother and even has a scout in Australia monitoring him as plays pro ball overseas.
Murray State’s Ja Morant, the most sought-after guard of the 2019 NBA draft class, wanted to sign a shoe deal with Nike, and he got his wish. After turning pro in early April, Morant insisted on not even meeting or engaging with any other brands during the negotiation process, before signing a multiyear, multimillion dollar footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Nike. The contract was agreed to in advance of the May 14 draft lottery, according to industry sources. “All my life my parents worked for a check,” he wrote on Instagram. “Now I’m proud to say I work for the check. #Nike #NikeBasketball”
While he may be “working for” Nike by wearing the brand’s well-established basketball sneakers at the next level, the Memphis Grizzlies are expected to be his NBA employer. Duke’s Zion Williamson is the presumptive No. 1 pick. If drafted at No. 2, as many expect, Morant is projected to earn $39.56 million over a four-year rookie scale contract length, according to ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks.
Morant would make $8.72 million during his rookie season, with 5 percent raises the following two seasons. The final year of his rookie contract would see a dramatic 26 percent raise, to $12.01 million. Sources at rival brands worry that as NBA rookie scale contracts continue to exponentially escalate at the top of the board, players will be less swayed to sign away from Nike over a few hundred thousand dollars difference per year between company offers.