New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has signed a multiyear footwear and apparel endorsement deal with adidas, sources told The Vertical.
The deal will pay Porzingis, 21, between $3 million and $6 million annually, depending on incentive bonuses met. It’s the most lucrative shoe deal signed by a European player to date.
Nike, his previous sponsor, has until mid-October to match the exact terms of the adidas contract because of the brand’s standard “right to match” clause, but Nike is not expected to match the deal, sources said.
Porzingis became a shoe free agent Oct. 1. As an emerging 17-year-old professional playing in Spain, Porzingis signed a four-year deal with Nike in 2012 that paid him $25,000 per year. While most incoming NBA rookies sign multiyear shoe endorsement deals during the summer draft window, Porzingis benefited from being under contract with Nike for just the first year of his career.
After being selected fourth overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the 7-foot-3 rookie enjoyed a breakout season in one of the league’s biggest media markets and emerged as a potential franchise player. He also showed crossover appeal from a marketing standpoint with his instant comfort dealing with the media, his grasp of the English language and an off-court fashion sense. He finished his first year in the NBA ranked fourth in jersey sales among all 400 players.
Leading into his shoe-deal negotiations this fall, several companies looked to align themselves with Porzingis. Nike, adidas and Under Armour each expressed strong interest in a long-term deal, while several Chinese-based brands also made an effort to pitch Porzingis and his agent, Andy Miller.
The negotiations down the stretch narrowed to just Nike and adidas. Ultimately, adidas emerged as the most aggressive brand, putting together a combined financial package and marketing commitment that won over Kristaps and his representatives. The deal will place him in an endorsement earnings tier similar to Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
“All I can say is both Nike and adidas are first-class companies,” Porzingis told The Vertical on Wednesday. “I would be lucky to align myself with either one. The amount of attention I received was flattering, but right now I am letting my agents handle the business side of things.”
With Nike not expected to match adidas’ deal, Porzingis will likely wear adidas’ new high-top Crazy Explosive sneaker in custom Knicks-themed colors on opening night Oct. 25 at Cleveland. Adidas has committed to make him a featured player in its advertising going forward and will also eventually release his game shoes at retail stores. In order to receive his own signature shoe, Porzingis would have to meet several on-court performance thresholds, such as being voted a starter in the All-Star Game.
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