Nike will have 10 days to match Anta's offer.
Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has reportedly agreed to a four-year sneaker and apparel offer sheet with Chinese Sportswear brand Anta, which includes a signature apparel collection and marketing throughout Asia and the US, according to ESPN's Nick DePaula. Although Hayward and Anta have reached an agreement, Nike still has 10 days to exercise their "match clause."
Hayward, 28, has been with Nike for most of his professional career and it was recently reported by NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely that the two were closing in on a multi-year deal. The one-time All-Star signed a four-year, $128 million deal with the Celtics last summer but missed all of last season after fracturing his ankle just minutes in to the season-opener.
Anta's familiarity with the Celtics is one of the reasons why a partnership with Hayward would make sense from a business standpoint. The brand's initial roster of signature athletes included Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, both of whom signed on after winning the 2008 NBA title which established "a connection for Anta fans with the team ever since," according to DePaula.
In addition to Anta, Hayward had also received a lot of interest from Boston-based brand New Balance, whom recently partnered with the Celtics on the team's new 70,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Auerbach Center training facility. Like Puma, New Balance is looking to re-launch their dormant basketball category.
Other soon-to-be NBA sneaker free agents include Joel Embiid, DeMarcus Cousins, Andrew Wiggins and Kawhi Leonard, who will reportedly be dropped by Jordan Brand in October.