Kawhi Leonard just signed a massive sneaker deal, but it isn't with the brand you'd expect. The NBA champion and two-time Defensive Player of the Year signed a multi-year endorsement deal not with Nike or adidas, but New Balance, according to Yahoo Sports.
This news comes as a shock due to Leonard's ongoing deal with Jordan since the start of his NBA career. However, after disagreements surrounding the $5 million contract negotiation and no offering of a signature shoe alongside his peers Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul, the Toronto Raptor star is taking his talents else where.
With signing with New Balance, Kawhi will now become the face of their basketball brand in hoping to jump-start the companies relevancy within the market, similar to PUMA this year. Terms of the deal are still under wraps, but ESPN reports that New Balance have offered "significantly more than $5 million per year." A signature shoe for Kawhi has not yet been confirmed.
When it comes to basketball sneakers, New Balance's history doesn't stack up to its sports apparel competitors like Nike or adidas. Their biggest highlights are the launch of the James Worthy signature shoe in the 1980s, and Michael Jordan wearing New Balance's during his LIFE Magazine photoshoot in 1985, which birthed the original "jumpman" photo.
But with the NBA loosening color restrictions for on-court sneakers, its no surprise that New Balance would try to capitalize on the change. Signing a potential MVP candidate for the 2018-19 season is the best way to go at it. It will be interesting to see if they can follow in PUMA's footsteps.
Let us know what you think of the New Balance and Kawhi Leonard endorsement deal in the comments below.
In more sneaker news, adidas introduces its first-ever laceless basketball sneaker.