If you've ever been curious about the breakdown of NBA sneaker deals — why certain players get signature shoes and others don't, how players without signature models still earn money, or why guys who aren't necessarily stars still end up with high-profile deals — we've got all the answers for you courtesy of Yahoo Sports, where Nick DePaula breaks the endorsement landscape into three categories: merchandise deals, cash deals, and signature sneaker deals.
Merchandise deals are intended for players who may ride the bench but are still perceived as valuable by the brand. These deals also work for those whose players game isn't exceptionally flashy and are on small-market teams — think squads like the Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, or Minnesota Timberwolves. Merch deals are typically on a year-to-year basis and don't include payouts. Instead, players receive free sneakers and gear for their efforts.
After merch deals come cash deals, which DePaula says includes the majority of NBA players. Cash deals can be awarded to anyone from a rookie like Andrew Wiggins to proven stars like Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kyle Lowry. Many players with this sort of deal are offered a combination of free sneakers and straight up cash, which can range from anywhere from $50,000 to as much as $500,000. Furthermore, over 50 players in the league with cash deals get their own PE colorways.
And then there's the holy grail of shoe deals, the signature sneaker. When it comes to U.S. sneaker brands, there are just 10 players in the entire league with their own signature deals: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, and Steph Curry. Unlike merch and cash deals, signature sneaker deals have a number of clauses and incentives that can greatly affect what a player makes when it's all said and done. For example, a player who misses too many games over the course of a season could lose millions in payout.
For a closer look at how sneaker deals work, head over to Yahoo Sports now.