John Wall became a sneaker free agent this offseason after his contract with adidas expired. Now, a report by The Vertical reveals details of how and why he moved on from the brand.
For some background, the 2010 No. 1 pick signed a five-year deal with Reebok as a rookie, which subsequently was taken over by parent company adidas in 2013. It paid him $2.5 million per year and ended just before the start of the 2015-16 season.
The partnership included two signature shoes -- the J Wall and J Wall 2 -- and an apparel line.
Here's the interesting part: adidas offered to re-sign the Wizards guard for three times the money, $7.5 million per year, and committed to continue producing his signature shoes and clothing. "Many around the industry considered [$7.5 million] an incredibly generous offer," reports The Vertical, but the Kentucky product walked away from it because "he wanted [James] Harden money."
Harden signed a 13-year deal worth $200 million to be the face of the adidas basketball brand. This happened in August of 2015, presumably around the timeframe Wall was discussing an extension with the company.
Obviously, the offer was nowhere close to what Harden commanded. So Wall left that money on the table, then several months later, fired his agent Dan Fegan for failing to secure him a major shoe deal.
Fegan had little leverage to attract other major shoe brands because the three-time All-Star's signature sneakers "underperformed at retail," according to The Vertical.
The blame for poor sales could just as easily land at adidas' feet as Wall's, though it couldn't have helped negotiations if the company offered their client neither big money nor retail success to stick around.
As for his footwear future, Wall hired agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports -- who also represents LeBron James -- because of his strong track record with sneaker contracts. In fact, 11 of his 12 clients have deals with Nike. The 12th signed his deal with adidas under a previous agent.
Wall has been seen wearing mostly Nike since his adidas deal ran out, but he may be likelier to end up with the Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand. Jordan has already invested in the Washington market by partnering with Georgetown University.
If he does indeed end up with Jordan, it may be under very different terms than he enjoyed with adidas. First off, industry experts predict he'd command between $2 and $3.5 million per year from Jordan. And he may not get his own shoe.
Those would be big tradeoffs, but Jordan's dominance of the basketball shoe market could offer Wall a considerably greater branding opportunity than he would receive with adidas.
It's all interesting stuff for sneakerheads and Wizards fans.
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