While Nike maintains a position of strength in the basketball footwear market, rival brands continue to make their intention to compete clear. In recent weeks, it's been reported that Stephen Curry is helping Under Armour close the gap, a payoff from their decision to pry the reigning MVP away from Nike in 2013. Perhaps more than ever, finding the right mix of star athletes is critical to a brand's marketing, and there will be several opportunities to bolster rosters this summer.
According to The Vertical's Nick DePaula, the Washington Wizards' dynamic backcourt of John Wall (adidas) and Bradley Beal (Nike), Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (Nike), Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (adidas) and New York Knicks rookie big man Kristaps Prozingis (Nike) are the cream of this year's sneaker free agent crop. Other big names, such as DeMarcus Cousins, will be looking to re-up or find a new home as well.
Porzingis, who has shown star potential in the coveted New York City market, is particularly intriguing from this group. DePaula reports that he originally signed a 4-year deal with Nike as a teenager playing professionally overseas, which explains why his deal is already up.
"The early expectation from industry sources is that Porzingis will be looking for a long-term shoe deal with a brand already entrenched in the U.S. market such as Nike, adidas or Under Armour.,The trio of top Chinese brands, Peak, Li-Ning and Anta, can all make strong cash offers, but have still struggled to elevate players in stateside marketing campaigns."
Read more about this year's free agents and potential suitors over at Yahoo.