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Projected top pick Ben Simmons and his agent, Rich Paul, are now changing course and plan to wait until after the NBA's draft lottery on Tuesday to decide with which shoe brand to sign, sources told The Vertical.
The thinking from Simmons' camp is straightforward and simple: It’s the Los Angeles Lakers or bust.
As it stands, Simmons has five-year endorsement offers from adidas and Nike. Adidas is offering a $10 million deal that also includes a $2 million signing bonus and a $1 million incentive bonus for being named Rookie of the Year. There are also several other on-court performance triggers that would provide Simmons with elevated marketing, extra resources and possibly his own signature shoe should he play at an All-Star level.
Nike is offering $7.5 million over five years with fewer performance incentives than the adidas contract structure. Nike, which presented second to Simmons last week, has shown an unwillingness to budge, sources said. Both offers are considered fair for a top pick.
The early strategy from Simmons and his Klutch Sports Group representation was believed to be a desire to sign a shoe deal before the draft lottery, but they aren’t satisfied with the Nike offer, sources said. They're hoping that if the Lakers land the top overall pick – which they have a 19.9 percent chance of doing – Nike will move closer to matching adidas’ offer.
Market size has mattered less in today's social-media age, where signature stars like Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and LeBron James have established themselves in historically lesser markets. But the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks will continue to be the exceptions that brands consistently focus on. For the first time in 20 seasons, the Lakers will not have Kobe Bryant next year, opening the door for a new face of the franchise.
Point guard D'Angelo Russell went to the Lakers last year as the second overall pick, and Nike upped its offer considerably to prevent Russell from signing with adidas. Russell agreed to a deal worth $1.2 million annually.
The industry-wide presumption is that Paul, the agent and longtime friend of Nike signature athlete LeBron James, would prefer to have Simmons sign with Nike. Within Nike's Beaverton, Ore., headquarters, several high-ranking executives don't believe that Nike-dominant Klutch Sports would agree to an endorsement deal with adidas. Nike doesn’t want to overpay and is prepared to stand by its offer.
Perhaps that changes if the Lakers land the top pick.
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