Kawhi Leonard will have to find a new on-court sneaker when he makes his Toronto Raptors debut, as his Jordan Brand contract is set to expire in October. According to Nick DePaula of ESPN.com, Jordan Brand will let Leonard walk this Fall, after he turned down a four-year, $22 million extension.
Leonard, who appeared in just nine games last season due to injury, was featured in Jordan Brand's "Like Mike" campaign earlier this year but he's not exactly the type of guy who is adept at marketing products, especially in the social media era. Known for his expressionless face and somber demeanor, the 27-year old forward is at the opposite end of the spectrum when compared to other signature athletes like Jordan Brand's Russell Westbrook, Adidas' James Harden, or Under Armour's Steph Curry.
"Would a new company be able to get the historically reserved Leonard to jump in on the arena entry trend, with a series of made-for-social-media-styled outfits that have helped to raise the star power of players around the league? And even if it did, would fans find a sudden pitchman persona contrived and forced, given Leonard's longtime disdain for promotional appearances and public attention?"
Other All-Stars that will be sneaker free agents leading into the 2018-19 season include Philadelphia Sixers big man Joel Embiid, who is currently with Adidas, as well as Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward and Golden State Warriors center, DeMarcus Cousins, both of whom currently rep for Nike.
In addition to Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, Puma Basketball will also be looking to poach some sneaker free agents, as will Chinese-based brands like Li-Ning, Anta and Peak.