Nike has one week to match adidas’ lucrative shoe endorsement deal with New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, sources told The Vertical.
Adidas stepped up when Porzingis’ Nike deal expired on Oct. 1, signing the blossoming 21-year-old to a seven-year deal worth between $3 million and $6 million annually, depending on performance incentives. It’s the richest deal ever signed by a European-born NBA player.
When the NBA’s free-agency window opens every summer, teams typically sign restricted free agents to offer sheets. The player’s current team then has 72 hours to match the exact terms of the deal. In the world of athletic endorsement deals, restricted sneaker free agency – yes, that’s a thing – has steadily become more and more competitive in recent years.
In restricted footwear deals, brands have contract language allowing them a similar “match window” – anywhere from one to three weeks. For Porzingis’ deal, Nike has 20 days to match, making the deadline Oct. 20, sources told The Vertical. Multiple sources throughout the industry said Nike is not expected to match adidas’ offer.
Porzingis has been focused on improving in his second NBA season, but the massive offer from adidas was a byproduct of his emerging status in the league’s biggest media market and his off-court marketing potential.
“I wasn’t really focused on getting a big [sneaker] deal during the summer, but that’s how it worked,” Porzingis told The New York Daily News this week. “I’m happy they see me as a European player who cannot only be a player, but have some effect off the court.”
There’s a growing concern in the industry that veering toward the $5 million annual mark for a second-year player could set a dangerous precedent in upcoming negotiations for other young stars. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, C.J. McCollum and Zach LaVine are among the players with Nike contracts that are set to expire in 2017.
While Porzingis’ offer from adidas would place him among the top 20 shoe endorsement deals in the league, he’s quick to say that he doesn’t feel any increased pressure.
“That doesn’t mean I’m a better player than Dirk Nowitzki, they just see me as somebody that’s good off the court, see me [resonating] with kids and that kind of stuff,” Porzingis told The New York Daily News. “And they see that potential in me that one day I can be that good. It’s in my hands now to prove that I am what they believe I can be.”
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