- Jimmy Butler is seeking a new shoe endorsement deal after ending his relationship with Jordan Brand
- Jordan’s focus on young stars like Zion Williamson and Luka Doncic played a key role in the 30-year-old Butler’s decision
- Butler’s relationship with former NBA star Dwyane Wade make Chinese shoe maker Li-Ning a strong candidate
The NBA sneaker free-agent market heated up this week with the news that Jimmy Butler has opted out of his long-term deal with Nike nine months early. While the Miami Heat star reportedly plans on hitting the court sporting a variety of different brands in the short term, New Balance has emerged as a strong favorite to ink Butler to his next sneaker endorsement deal, sporting short -110 odds.
Odds on Jimmy Butler’s Next Shoe Contract
Odds taken on January 3, 2020.
Rookie Deal with Adidas Short-Lived
Selected 30th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, Butler signed his first shoe deal with Adidas during his rookie year. Three years later, he signed with Nike’s Jordan Brand, reportedly taking a substantial cut in endorsement revenue to go into business with a brand that he had a long relationship with, dating back to his youth.
Jimmy Butler tossing that Jordan offer like: pic.twitter.com/UeJkAKXy2w
— HefferBrew (@hefferbrew) January 2, 2020
Butler has blossomed into an NBA star during his time with Jordan, earning NBA All-Star honors on four occasions and being named the league’s Most Improved Player in 2015. But with Jordan turning its attention to a more youthful market through its deals with Zion Williamson and Luka Doncic, it became clear that it was time for the 30-year-old Butler to move on.
Kawhi’s Success Raising New Balance’s Profile
New Balance could represent a good fit for Butler. The brand has made plenty of noise since its recent return to the basketball sneaker market, pursuing the likes of Joel Embiid and Gordon Hayward with attractive offers.
Kawhi Leonard is the 2nd NBA Finals MVP to make a deal with New Balance. pic.twitter.com/9WvY628ZlP
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 28, 2018
Indeed, the brand landed the biggest sneaker free agent of 2019 with the signing of Kawhi Leonard, who provided New Balance with plenty of bang for its buck while leading the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever NBA title.
With Leonard one of just three players currently under contract with New Balance, opportunity exists for Butler to have a real impact on the expansion of that brand, something that became increasingly unlikely at Jordan
With Leonard one of just three players currently under contract with New Balance, opportunity exists for Butler to have a real impact on the expansion of that brand, something that became increasingly unlikely at Jordan.
Relationship with Wade Adds Value to Li-Ning
However, New Balance is not alone among burgeoning brands in the lucrative sneaker market space. Dwyane Wade reportedly played an important role in Butler’s decision to sign with Miami as a free agent last summer, and could now be instrumental in a bid by Chinese sporting goods company Li-Ning in its efforts to bring Butler.
Source says Jimmy Butler’s “mind was totally blown” by all the pomp and circumstance surrounding Dwyane Wade’s last home game, with him telling friends afterward that being able to see what Miami and the Heat organization are about left an enormous impact on him.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 29, 2019
Like Butler, Wade parted ways with Jordan after a three-year relationship, and has since become the most-prominent NBA face in the Li-Ning stable. Wade also encouraged Butler to sign with the Heat, feeling that Butler would fit well into the team’s culture.
Judging by the Heat’s hot 25-9 start in Butler’s first season, Wade’s word may carry considerable weight.
BREAKING: Dwyane Wade has agreed to a Lifetime Deal with Chinese brand Li-Ning.
He first signed with the company in 2012, is launching his 7th Way of Wade signature shoe & has 11 standalone Wade stores in China. Li-Ning boasts more than 7,000 stores in Asia.
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) July 18, 2018
Since joining Li-Ning in 2012, Wade has received his own signature shoe, something that Butler never received from Jordan. Both Adidas and Puma, which lag as +400 and +500 longshots, have the budget to bring Butler into the fold. However, he has previously demonstrated loyalty to people and brands that he has a connection with, meaning Butler’s relationship with Wade adds considerable value to Li-Ning as his next sneaker destination.
Pick: Li-Ning (+150)