For the second-straight year, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is making headlines by signing a sneaker endorsement deal. As reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania on Wednesday, Kuzma has inked a 5-year deal with Puma Basketball, making him one of the brand's fresh young faces for the foreseeable future.
ESPN's Nick DePaula has confirmed additional details surrounding the deal, including some of its financial terms. Kuzma will reportedly be paid more than $20 million over the life of the deal, which includes incentives that could increase the value even more. Along with being featured in key campaigns and product feedback sessions, he'll have creative control over future collections—the latter a key factor in his negotiations with Nike and Puma this summer.
"The No. 1 thing I was trying to look for was a little bit more control, a little bit more freedom to do certain things," Kuzma told ESPN. "Not to be restricted from an idea standpoint."
Kuzma is coming off a 2-year Nike deal, which paid him just $25,000 annually. After making the 2018 NBA All-Rookie First Team and emerging as a star in basketball's greatest market, Kuzma was due for a larger profile deal this season. He met with Nike during USA Basketball scrimmages in Las Vegas during the first week of August, but an agreement was not reached. Shortly after, Kuzma and his team were granted access to Puma's ambassador plane, on which they traveled to Boston for the brand's final presentation and back to Los Angeles in time for USAB practices.
While Kuzma acknowledges that leaving Nike and his idol Kobe Bryant's signature models behind was a difficult decision, he hopes that it's the first step in forging a sneaker legacy of his own. To achieve that, he'll not only wear the brand's latest performance models on the court, but will also have a hand in developing lifestyle product and working on fashion capsules with outside designers. One of the first projects he's expected to debut is a sneaker tribute to late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was a Puma endorser himself and his Marathon Clothing store continues to work with the brand to benefit his foundation.
"I wanted to go to Puma, not only for everything that I've got going on, but to do some things within this community like Nip did," said Kuzma.
Around this time last year, Kuzma signed what he hoped would be a groundbreaking deal with sneaker reseller platform GOAT, with the idea that he'd play in rare and limited edition sneakers throughout the season. However, the deal seemed to clash with what he had going on with Nike, which ended up lacing him up in current performance models instead.
Now Kuzma, who was seeking to expand his profile this summer, has the opportunity to do so on and off the court. With the Lakers, he's expected to become a core piece of a team with championship aspirations. The structure of his relationship with Puma opens the door for him to become the NBA's latest crossover style icon, following in the footsteps of players such as Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Puma Global Director of Brand and Marketing Adam Petrick expressed excitement over the latest addition to the brand's basketball roster in a statement to Sole Collector.
"The addition of Kyle to our expanding Hoops roster is a huge step for our brand,” said Petrick. “His performance on the court speaks for itself but his personality and style off the court fits perfectly with our team. He is tuned into the culture around the sport and we’re excited to collaborate with him as we move into the upcoming NBA season.”