Zach LaVine’s got a brand new start with the Chicago Bulls. The 22-year-old’s in a huge market and he has a chance to be the best player on a team that gets major exposure year after year. LaVine’s game continues to improve, and before he went down with a torn ACL in February, he was averaging a career-best 19 points per game. And he’s got the Dunk Contest locked up whenever he decides to jump back in.
LaVine’s original contract with Nike is set to expire at the end of September. According to ESPN, he’s about to look at the open market and take meetings with adidas, Anta and Nike, where his mix of on-court success and off-court fame will make him a big draw.
“He’s now in the same market that former MVPs Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose created their legacies in,” Nima Namakian, LaVine’s agent at BDA Sports, said to ESPN. “Being the focal point in Coach [Fred] Hoiberg’s up-tempo offense, focused on movement and spacing, plays to Zach’s strengths and should elevate his overall game and performance to an elite level.
“For the next phase of his career, Zach is looking for an organic partnership where the brand’s belief and vision is genuine and aligned with his,” Namakian said. “He wants to be a creative and engaged partner working together in continuing to grow his brand globally.”
A deal with Anta could push LaVine’s brand far outside of America. Klay Thompson, another BDA client, has an $80 million deal with Anta. His products reportedly appear in more than 8,000 stores across China. And LaVine will most likely be more interested in marketing than the relatively reserved Thompson, making the possibility of a signature line much more enticing for Anta.
Adidas will be in the mix too, banking on their red-hot success of late, both on and off the court. The incumbent Nike’s not going anywhere, either. ESPN reports that the Swoosh is going to make a hard push to keep LaVine on their roster. They also hold a match clause, giving them 10 business days to match any offer that LaVine receives. We recently spoke to LaVine about his love of Kobe’s Nike silhouettes. He counts the Nike Kobe 1 as one of his favorite sneakers. He’s worn Air Jordans, contemporary Nike models and nearly all of Kobe Bryant’s sneakers since coming into the League.
LaVine’s expected to make a decision by the end of September. Keep it locked for more updates.