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Sneaker free agency: Why Puma is the best fit for Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard will be entering free agency in the basketball shoe market upon announcement that the Jordan Brand, his current sponsor, will not be renewing his contract.

Back in March, Leonard declined a four-year $22 million offer from the Jordan apparel, consequently ending talks between the two parties. Reports indicated that Leonard wanted a bigger offer than was being presented to him, which Jordan Brand declined.

With free agency around the corner, precisely August 1, and Leonard’s contract with Jordan Brand officially ending on October 1, sneaker companies looking to increase their spread in the basketball market are expected to reach out to the two-time All-Star and 2014 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player to represent their brand.

Puma is reportedly a potential landing spot for Leonard in free agency and there are logical reasons to that actually happening. For one, Puma has been making waves since it announced its re-entry into the basketball shoe market a few weeks ago, signing rookies Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Michael Porter Jr., and veteran Rudy Gay to its brand. The company, on Friday July 27 also announced its signing of Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier to further improve its profile.

Puma’s interest in Leonard was included as a cryptic message in news regarding his imminent divorce from Jordan Brand on Puma’s Instagram story recently, which sneaker reporter Jarron Ramos highlighted in a video.

As a matter of fact, Puma might just be the perfect shoe brand for Leonard as both entities share similar attributes – low-key and lackluster in persona. But it is not certain if Puma can offer as much as the $5.5 million per year that Leonard turned down from Jordan Brand, seeing as Puma holds a meager share of the basketball shoe division.

Generally, in the global sneaker market, Puma is a distant fourth based on sales figures in comparison to more prominent brands like Nike. In 2017, Puma recorded sales worth $2.4 billion, which pales in comparison to Nike’s $21.1 billion for the same year.

Infographic: Nike's Still on Top of the Sneaker World | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

While that is not a rational view to hold up the notion that Puma may be unable to offer as much as Nike’s $5.5 million per year, it is worth considering that a brand making a return into the basketball market after a long hiatus would be consider the value an athlete of Leonard’s persona can deliver. The 27-year-old Leonard has a reputation that borders around being anti-social and this may not command the kind of financial value he hopes to get from sneaker sponsorship. In an age where celebrities turn products into billion dollar empires using the power of social media as Kylie Jenner did with her makeup brand, Leonard is virtually non-existent. He does not seem to be interested in embracing the millennial lifestyle and fads either. Regardless of this fact, Puma brand seems to be the appropriate brand for Leonard’s social stature and for fans who may prefer functional design over aesthetic features.

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Adekunle Binuyo
Just a fanatical hoop head lost in the art and science of the game.
Adekunle Binuyo
Adekunle Binuyo
Adekunle Binuyo

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About Adekunle Binuyo

Just a fanatical hoop head lost in the art and science of the game.

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