Sources: Kawhi Likely Getting $5M-Plus Annually From New Balance
Raptors F Kawhi Leonard has "agreed to a multi-year shoe deal with re-emerging brand New Balance" after a "stalemate over long-term extension talks with current endorser Jordan Brand," according to sources cited by Nick DePaula of ESPN.com. Leonard yesterday said the deal is "not official," as he and New Balance "haven't announced anything." DePaula noted it is "common in shoe deals that incumbent brands will have up to 10 business days to exercise their 'match rights clause,' though Jordan Brand has long been resigned to letting Leonard walk, meaning the new contract should become official by next week." Terms have not been disclosed, but expectations are that New Balance is "likely to have offered significantly more" than $5M per year. That would be "on par with the Jordan Brand extension that Leonard turned down earlier this spring," a four-year deal worth up to $22M. Leonard's existing Jordan endorsement deal "expired Oct. 1." It has "not yet been confirmed whether Leonard will receive his own signature model or simply become the face of New Balance's new basketball sneaker." Sources said that Leonard and his team have been "vetting potential creative agencies to launch and manage his social media accounts" (ESPN.com, 11/28). YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Haynes, who first reported the deal, noted New Balance is "looking to re-establish itself in the basketball market." Darius Bazley, a Syracuse recruit who opted to forgo college to work toward the '19 NBA Draft, is "interning for New Balance" during the season as part of a shoe contract he signed with the brand last month (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/28).
BALANCING ACT: ESPN's DePaula called the New Balance agreement a "great deal" for Leonard, as he will "be the headliner" for the company. It is possible Leonard was "maybe lost in the shuffle" with Jordan Brand. However, there is going to be a “lot of pressure” on Leonard with the deal. DePaula: "You're the first guy and you have to re-establish yourself with New Balance." Meanwhile, New Balance "could use a little help on social media, and that's something that he hasn't really shown to have.” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst asked, “What has he shown to have that’s going to sell shoes? He's a great player but he's not a shoe salesman” ("The Jump," ESPN, 11/28) NBA TV’s Trey Kerby noted New Balance “doesn't even have a basketball shoe." Kerby: "You go on their web site -- they’ve got golf shoes, they’ve got lacrosse shoes, they’ve got skateboarding shoes, somehow they don't have a basketball shoe. The last time we saw a New Balance basketball shoe on the court, it was falling apart back when Matt Bonner wore them” ("The Starters," NBA TV, 11/28).
FOR THE CULTURE: In Utah, Eric Woodyard noted Jazz G Donovan Mitchell was a "surprise guest" Tuesday night at the Adidas Brooklyn Farm as Adidas "introduced its latest footwear collection" for the '19 Spring/Summer. The brand sees Mitchell as a "big part of their future." He is "so in touch with the culture" that Adidas Basketball Senior Dir of Footwear Rashad Williams "often uses him as a go-to person for feedback on upcoming products." Williams said, "He's one of the players that you can show him shoes or apparel or ads and you can get that honest feedback because Donovan is still young, he's in the know and he's about doing good stuff so it's been good having him here just to kind of bounce ideas off him" (DESERETNEWS.com, 11/28).