Ben Simmons set to meet with Nike and adidas — a case for both sneaker powerhouses

NBA
Ben Simmons is set to meet with Nike and adidas.
Ben Simmons is set to meet with Nike and adidas.Source: FOX SPORTS

BEN Simmons is set to sit down with Nike and adidas, this week, with the two sneaker giants vying for the 19-year-old’s signature.

According to a report from The Vertical’s Nick DePaula, Simmons will meet with adidas in Los Angeles on Thursday, before sitting down with Nike’s brass over the weekend.

The expectation is that Simmons, a projected top-two pick, will sign a deal by the end of the week — well before the NBA Draft lottery — in order to avoid the potential downfall, should a small-market team be in a position to land him.

The deal won’t be the lofty number that’s previously been reported, and will instead likely be a five-year deal, worth about US$2-3 million (around A$3.5 million) per year; a number similar to that earned by the likes of Andrew Wiggins and John Wall.

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Nike has been the long-time favourite to land Simmons, but adidas has recently emerged as a genuine contender; the 2.08m forward strategically wearing gear from both brands over the past few weeks.

Ben Simmons and his agent, Rich Paul.
Ben Simmons and his agent, Rich Paul.Source: Getty Images

CASE FOR NIKE

Klutch Sports Group’s relationship with the brand

When Simmons first signed with Klutch Sports Group, it seemed that signing with Nike was the inevitable next step.

The agency, which has Nike’s top athlete, LeBron James, as a co-founder, has extremely strong ties with the brand; the majority of the athletes signed to Klutch are also signed to Nike. The only athlete signed to Klutch who’s not with Nike is Ben McLemore, whose current shoe deal came before he joined the Cleveland-based agency.

Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, has a substantial connection in Beaverton, Oregon — the home of Nike — making the brand the immediate favourite for any of his clients.

LeBron James

It’s no secret that Simmons has an affinity with LeBron James. The 19-year-old models his game after the four-time MVP, with the pair having long been acquaintances.

James had a significant role in convincing Simmons to sign with Klutch Sports Group, and will likely play a similar role in Nike’s pitch.

LeBron James has a lifetime deal with Nike.
LeBron James has a lifetime deal with Nike.Source: AP

In December of 2015, James signed a lifetime deal with the brand, with some estimates putting the agreement at $1 billion.

For Nike, it would be extremely beneficial to earn the signature of Simmons — arguably the most marketable player in his draft class — so, expect James to play a role in the recruitment effort.

Montverde Academy/LSU connection

While adidas has recently emerged as a legitimate landing spot, the reality is that the bulk of Simmons’ playing days has been with Nike-based organisations.

During his high school days, Simmons attended Florida’s Montverde Academy — a Nike Elite school — and played for Each 1 Teach 1 (E1T1) on Nike’s AAU circuits.

Simmons then signed with Louisiana State University, which is also a Nike school, for his first — and only — year of college basketball.

When it comes to sneaker deals, an intrinsic connection with the brand — along with brand loyalty — can often play a role, so Nike’s history with Simmons is likely to have a significant effect on his decision

Ben Simmons has an important decision to make.
Ben Simmons has an important decision to make.Source: Getty Images

CASE FOR ADIDAS

Expected to make a stronger offer, with incentives

With Nike recently becoming the new official uniform and apparel provider for NBA, it’s become extremely important for adidas to remain strong in the market.

According to The Vertical, adidas is expected to make a stronger offer to Simmons, both in annual base compensation and achievable incentives.

The brand has some impressive names on board — the likes of Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose, and James Harden — but, relative to Nike, is lacking superstar athletes. This gives adidas incentive to up the ante on its offer, in order to secure a potential superstar in Simmons.

Ben Simmons and Dejounte Murray with their agent, Rich Paul.
Ben Simmons and Dejounte Murray with their agent, Rich Paul.Source: Getty Images

More potential for a signature shoe, quicker

The initial deal from both brands isn’t expected to include a signature shoe — instead, offering Simmons custom-coloured versions, known as player exclusives, of their statement-level team shoes — but, it would make sense for adidas to put the option of a signature on the table, earlier than Nike would.

Nike has an abundance of signature athletes — including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant — so one would expect them to hold off on offering a signature to Simmons. Meanwhile, adidas’ signatures include the likes of Lillard, Harden, and Rose; none of whom are as marketable as Nike’s athletes.

If the goal for Simmons is to establish himself in the sneaker world as quickly as possible, then adidas may be his best bet.

Dante Exum, and adidas’ role in the Australian market

One potential sell that adidas has at its advantage is the fact that it has Dante Exum as one of its athletes. Exum is a long-time friend of Simmons, with the two playing together on junior teams in Victoria.

Dante Exum is signed with adidas.
Dante Exum is signed with adidas.Source: Getty Images

Joining a brand that has real potential to have a presence in the Australian sneaker market would be ideal for Simmons, with no Australian basketball player able to effectively establish an effective presence Down Under, recently.

Having both Simmons and Exum signed to adidas would give them incentive to focus on Australia; a market that has immense potential, and is relatively untouched.