Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Is Damian Lillard Leaving Adidas?

Is Damian Lillard, the rising star of the Portland Trail Blazers, about to opt out? No, this isn’t about his contract with the Portland Trail Blazers when he was drafted in 2012. It’s about his shoe deal with Adidas. Damian Lillard signed a shoe endorsement deal during his rookie year with Adidas and it has incentives which allows him to opt out of his contract. 

Not all of the specific details have been made public to what would allow him to opt out of his original deal, but being an all-star this season and winning rookie of the year last season are parts of the incentives. Now, if he chooses, Lillard can opt out and renegotiate his contract with Adidas or go to a different company, according to Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest.

Adidas took a chance on Lillard when he first came out of college. Not being a big name coming out of Weber State, people might have thought it would be a risk to sign Lillard, but he has turned himself into a marketable household name with the Blazers success this season. Will Adidas pay him the big bucks or let him walk to, say, Nike, who is known to shell out the money? According to Wall St. Cheat Sheet, out of the 10 NBA players who are making the most money from shoe endorsements seven are from Nike/Jordan, two are from Adidas (Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard), and one is from LiNing.

Adidas is already in a bad situation now since the biggest name they have is Derrick Rose, who is hurt once again. They also have Dwight Howard who is having a nice season with the Houston Rockets, but his play isn’t flashy enough to be considered the face of Adidas. John Wall and Jrue Holiday are also with Adidas so they are definitely trying to sign the up and coming players. I thought their movement of “Quick Ain’t Fair” with Lillard, Wall and Holiday was a good idea, however, they seemed to let that die down and now you really don’t see them marketing the shoes at all. Maybe it’s because they are in season now.

The shoe market seems to be more popular than it ever was. Having so many big time players signing deals is making it more competitive. Adidas is the clear No. 2 option behind Nike/Jordan when it comes to basketball shoes, but letting Damian Lillard leave would make them look even worse. Nike has Kobe, Durant, and LeBron so they are not lacking in the names. Other than Lillard, Adidas has Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, John Wall, and Jrue Holiday. Not to mention two of those players are out for the season in Rose and Holiday. Adidas will never be Nike; however, letting Lillard leave would continue to separate them. You could argue that even Under Armour is catching Adidas. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors looks to be the face of Under Armour, while the face of Adidas is an injured Derrick Rose. With that being said, it would be a mistake to let Lillard go to a competitor.

So the question is what should Adidas do? Will letting Lillard leave be a big deal? Or will they target bigger names that might come out of this year’s draft in Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker?

If you want to read more about the Damian Lillard opt out of Adidas visit here.
Alan Liang is a junior sport management major at Drexel University and Drexel Sport Management Student Union member.

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