Now that the glamorous part of the NBA offseason is over, Adidas is chasing hard after the biggest name on the sneaker free-agent market. After an MVP-caliber season that catapulted his Houston Rockets into the Western Conference Finals, James Harden has been offered a 13-year deal worth $200 million from the apparel company.
Desperation appears to be mounting for Adidas, as ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports. Under Armour, who’s endorsed by Stephen Curry, just passed Adidas in apparel sales this past year. Adidas also opted not to fight for a new deal with the NBA, leaving Nike free to take over as the official apparel provider of the league after the 2016-17 season.
Furthermore, Derrick Rose, who’s in the midst of a 14-year deal with Adidas, has undoubtedly lost some value due to his inability to stay healthy. Initially, the pact with Rose looked promising after he won MVP in 2010-11, but a series of knee injuries have helped Adidas come to the realization that more names of notoriety are needed.
And if they’re looking at John Wall and Damian Lillard, who are currently under contract, it’s tough to imagine these are guys capable of making the kind of impact they might be looking for. Wall plays in D.C. for a pretty good Washington Wizards team, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s vociferously shouting his name while shooting paper balls into garbage cans. And as good as Lillard is, he’s playing in a conference that’s loaded with talent at that position, and for a team expected to precipitously fall after losing 80 percent of their starting lineup. How will he fare now that his team is in rebuild mode?
So who better to turn to than the man who was voted among his peers as the MVP? Harden was incredible last season to the tune of 27.4 points per game, nearly earning him his first scoring title, to go along with career highs in assists (7.0) and rebounds (5.7) per game. He’s unequivocally ascended to the top echelon in the NBA as an all-around player, and last season he helped the Rockets capture a division title and thrust them into championship contention. With Dwight Howard (who just left Adidas) missing half the season due to injury, Harden garnered a large degree of respect for his regular-season performance.
The question now becomes if Harden is able to be the draw Adidas needs. Well, by virtue of this lucrative deal on the table, they apparently believe he’s fully capable of doing so. After being traded from OKC, Harden has created his own brand in Houston with his excellent play on the court and the beard he currently sports.
Adidas has taken a backseat to Nike and Under Armour, so it would behoove the company to throw an exorbitant amount at a player like Harden. He’s a perennial All-Star coming off his best season in the league. If Nike doesn’t match the offer for Harden, Adidas is obviously hoping that Harden will continue to cook next year while wearing the company’s gear.