Kristaps Porzingis ready to take off with adidas

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·The Vertical
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Kristaps Porzingis is officially an adidas man. (Courtesy of adidas)
Kristaps Porzingis is officially an adidas man. (Courtesy of adidas)

Kristaps Porzingis’ seven-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with adidas is official, making him the highest-paid European sneaker endorser in NBA history.

The deal, negotiated by agent Andy Miller of ASM Sports, pays the New York Knicks power forward between $3 million and $6 million annually. That starting range could escalate each year based on several performance incentives such as point-average thresholds, playoff appearances and All-NBA or All-Star team selections. His previous brand, Nike, held a “right to match” clause and waited until the very end to decline to match adidas’ offer.

Nike ultimately deemed the price too steep for a player positioned behind the brand’s established superstars and other top players on the marketing totem pole. Porzingis, 21, hasn’t yet proven he can move shoes, but he did show some marketing promise last season, finishing fourth in NBA jersey sales behind LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Stephen Curry, benefiting from the league’s biggest market.

Porzingis’ three custom Crazy Explosive sneakers. (Courtesy of adidas)
Porzingis’ three custom Crazy Explosive sneakers. (Courtesy of adidas)

“I’m happy to be here and it just felt right to be with adidas,” Porzingis said. “There’s a lot of excitement right now, and I feel like it’s the right fit for me. A city like New York is hungry for success in basketball, and I believe adidas will help take my game to the next level.”

The fact Porzingis was a sneaker free agent was a mostly unprecedented case. Typically, rookies drafted at the top of the first round sign a four-year sneaker deal, but Porzingis signed a four-year contract with Nike for $25,000 when he began his pro career in Spain at 17.

“What made it unique was that [the deal] wasn’t over by the time he was drafted,” Chris Brantley, vice president of marketing at ASM Sports, told The Vertical before Porzingis entered into negotiations with other brands. “He still had one year to go, and we had him play out the year and bet on him. We bet that he would have a good season and put himself in position to get a nice contract when it expired.”

Porzingis will now join James Harden, Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose and Andrew Wiggins as adidas’ featured athletes. He’ll be headlining the company’s new progressive high-top Crazy Explosive sneaker with Wiggins.

An up-close look at the 'KP6' logo. (Courtesy of adidas)
An up-close look at the 'KP6' logo. (Courtesy of adidas)

From the brand’s standpoint, signing Porzingis speaks to the heights it feels his career is headed. Porzingis showcased a versatility and mobility in his rookie year rarely seen in a 7-foot-3 frame. Of course, big men often carry a stigma when it comes to sneaker marketing, but Porzingis is looking to break that mold as a modern position-less player.

“Whatever shoe he’s wearing, or whatever marketing plan is behind it, it will be something that supports someone who is a game-changer and a perception-changer,” Brantley said. “He’s not your typical big man. He’s a crossover player and a guard in a big man’s body.”

Porzingis will start his partnership with adidas wearing special custom editions of its featured team shoes. A Porzingis signature shoe isn’t part of the deal – just yet. Only Harden, Rose and Lillard have their own shoes with adidas.

For now, you can expect Porzingis to take the floor in one of three custom Crazy Explosive sneakers adidas made for him. Each size 17 pair features matching Knicks uniform colors, along with an interlocking “KP6” icon on the tongue. Along each sockliner you’ll find a nod to his native Latvia, as the country and flag are featured, along with his hometown of Liepaja’s coat of arms crest.

As he begins his second NBA season, Porzingis is just scratching the surface of his potential – even if his shoe deal is more in line with that of an established All-Star.

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