The Kawhi Leonard saga that dominated headlines for much of the season and offseason started in part due to Leonard’s reported desire to play in a big market to secure better endorsements. With his shoe deal set to expire in October, the forward seemingly wanted to secure a bigger paycheck from one of the major shoe companies by playing somewhere where his stardom would flourish.
Leonard was eventually traded to the Raptors and while Toronto is one of the biggest markets in North America, it’s unclear how much that market can affect a basketball player’s endorsements.
Perhaps case in point, it appears as though Leonard will be looking for a new shoe deal in October as ESPN’s Nick DePaula reports that his current endorser, Jordan Brand, plans to let his contract expire without another offer:
After making a strong 4 year / $22 Million extension offer to Kawhi Leonard earlier this year that was turned down, Jordan Brand plans to let Leonard walk this fall once his deal expires in October, according to industry sources.
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) July 24, 2018
According to DePaula, Leonard will likely be allowed to begin negotiating new deals 60 days in advance of his current contract expiring.
Leonard is not exactly the most marketable player in the NBA with his stoic personality becoming somewhat of a meme on social media with or without his knowledge of it.
But Leonard’s dismissal of an offer from Jordan Brand shows that he is seeking bigger endorsements. It would be foolish to assume that that will not play into his free agency in 2019.
Kawhi has reportedly been set on moving to Los Angeles for a while now, although he may warm up to the idea of being a Finals contender with the Raptors, and LA is arguably the best market for someone looking to hit it big with a shoe deal. That’s not to say that his final decision will be based entirely on that matter, but it will play a role and that is a strong card for the Lakers (and the Clippers, for that matter) to hold.