Anyone watching the NBA this season is aware of what Luka Doncic has been doing on the court. In just his second season in the league, Doncic has launched himself into the way-too-early Most Valuable Player conversation. Through 16 games, the youngster is nearly averaging a thirty point triple-double. The only other players to do that in NBA history are Russell Westbrook during his own MVP campaign and Oscar Robertson. Regardless of whether Doncic can hit those high marks for the entire year or bring home the highest individual regular season honor, the point is the same: Doncic has arrived.
Intriguingly, Luka is a free agent in the shoe market. Due to the fact that he signed a deal as a professional playing in Madrid, his “rookie” deal with Nike expired just before the season. Rather than signing a new deal with the brand or quickly seeking another deal, Doncic has decided to play things out– and will now be reaping the benefits.
This summer, young phenom Zion Williamson signed the most lucrative rookie shoe deal in NBA history. That was before he had even stepped onto the court. Potential is always alluring, but what happens when a player enters the open market having already proven his abilities in the league? It’s possible the NBA has never seen a situation quite like Luka’s. Not since Steph Curry left Nike for Under Armour has a player of this caliber been up for grabs.
While Nike should still be considered the front-runner, it remains to be seen what their offer will entail. Much like the recent exodus of players to Puma and Under Armour, there is an allure to becoming the “face” of a brand as opposed to competing with signature shoes from LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. As incredible as Luka Doncic is, it is unlikely he will ever reach LeBron James’s reach and accomplishments. However, there are a handful of other shoe brands where he could instantly become one of their most important endorsers. And with that comes the opportunity to instantly have his own signature shoe line– something that is immeasurably more valuable than any dollar number. As legends like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have shown, great players with their own shoe can still make heaps of money well after their playing days are over. The sooner Doncic can establish his own brand, the better.
With Puma making an aggressive push to sign younger stars and Under Armour’s recent rise in the basketball shoe market on the back of Steph Curry, there could be a bidding war for Luka’s services. If the twenty-year-old does continue his incredible pace, he’ll easily make the all star game among other individual accolades. With his star rising, a shoe company will want to capitalize on the growing hype building around the young man as soon as possible. However, with the shoe giants in a constant battle, someone may have to shell out record-breaking numbers in order to land the young man. Of course, when it comes to Luka Doncic and his massive potential, it will almost certainly be worth it.