Sources: Nike, Adidas to pitch Ben Simmons this week

Hoping to finalize a footwear endorsement deal before the NBA draft lottery on May 17, sports agency Klutch Sports Group will meet with adidas Basketball on Thursday in Los Angeles to pitch potential top pick Ben Simmons on a shoe deal, sources told The Vertical. Simmons and Klutch Sports will then meet with Nike over the weekend, sources said.

Ben Simmons, right, wears the adidas Yeezy Boost 350 with Rich Paul, left, at a Cavs game. (Getty)
Ben Simmons, right, wears the adidas Yeezy Boost 350 with Rich Paul, left, at a Cavs game. (Getty)

Simmons, the versatile 6-foot-10 forward who played one year at LSU, is expected to be among the top two players selected at the NBA draft on June 23. In looking to land a deal before the lottery, Simmons and Klutch Sports founder Rich Paul don’t want to be at the mercy of market size should smaller-market teams land the top two picks. They're expected to decide on Simmons' shoe deal by the end of next week.

As it stands, only Nike and adidas are believed to be in the running to sign Simmons. Both companies will be offering multi-year deals in line with the common five-year structure offered to previous incoming top picks such as Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Davis and John Wall. For comparison, the two largest recent rookie shoe contracts of this decade were given to Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in 2014, by adidas for $2.2 million over five years, and Wall, the No. 1 pick in 2010, by Reebok, which paid him a $2.5 million base over five years, along with several incentive bonuses.

While the initial projections before his freshman season began were much loftier, Simmons is expected to be offered a shoe deal similar to the ones signed by Wiggins and Wall. After an up-and-down year at LSU, Simmons won't be fielding offers near the tier of the industry's largest rookie shoe deals, which LeBron James (seven years, $90 million) and Kevin Durant (seven years, $60 million) each signed with Nike last decade.

An important wrinkle in the negotiation is that Paul also represents James, Nike Basketball's top athlete. After being represented by two other agencies earlier in his career, James and Paul formed Klutch Sports Group in 2012, and the agency has had close ties with Nike ever since.

Because of Klutch Sports' strong Nike ties, many are assuming that Nike will eventually land Simmons. However, adidas is expected to make a stronger overall offer, both in annual base compensation and achievable incentives, sources told The Vertical. Neither brand is expected to offer a signature shoe to Simmons, but would plan to offer Simmons custom-colored versions, known as player exclusives, of their statement-level team shoes.

Simmons wore the LeBron 13 and LeBron Soldier 9 Nike models at LSU, but he has been strategically rotating between Nike and adidas sneakers in appearances and images on social media since leaving school. He's been spotted training in the Nike LeBron 13 Elite one day, and the adidas Crazylight Boost 2.5 the next. Simmons and Paul have also been sitting courtside at Cleveland Cavaliers games this past month, with Simmons switching between the Air Jordan 1, Timberland boots, adidas Ultra Boost and adidas Yeezy Boost 350.

With the league's draft lottery less than two weeks away, the urgency is on for Klutch Sports Group to land Simmons the first marquee endorsement deal of his pro career.

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