Report: Lonzo Ball’s father seeking signature shoe deal, shoe would have $200 price tag

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The list of active NBA players with a signature shoe from a top brand is short and elite: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose (his old deal with Adidas).Also, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul have shoes in their name under the Jordan brand.

(There are other deals with Chinese and overseas companies, too: Rajon Rondo and Klay Thompson through ANTA; Dwyane Wade through Li-Ning; Tony Parker, Dwight Howard, and Matthew Dellavedova through PEAK.)

Notice any rookies or young players on that list? Nope. The days of top picks — even can’t miss top picks — getting massive shoe deals are gone. Rookies sign smaller deals — three-or-four years, around $1 million a year, for the top picks — then need to establish themselves not just as players but as crossover brands that break out of basketball before signature shoe deals start coming down.

Don’t tell LaVar Ball that.

The father of likely top three pick Lonzo Ball is trying to use that hype to promote his Big Baller Brand — and at the heart of the plan is a shoe deal. Except he went to the major shoe manufacturers — Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour — offering a co-branding strategy with Big Baller, and all three took a pass. Nick DePaula of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports wrote about the Ball shoe plan.

So far, Big Baller Brand has primarily sold screen-printed T-shirts, sweatshirts and embroidered hats on its web store, with prices ranging from $50-$100 per piece. The brand is targeting the $200 tier for its debut Big Baller Brand basketball sneaker, an industry source told The Vertical, which would presumably be Lonzo’s signature shoe for his rookie season. LaVar and associate Alan Foster reportedly have been developing the shoe over the past year.

Should Lonzo not reach an endorsement deal with any footwear brand and instead wear the family’s inaugural Big Baller Brand sneaker, it would be a first for a potential top-five selection. There’s no denying that LaVar’s push for a co-branded partnership with potential major brands has stifled what would otherwise be a highly competitive market for Lonzo, an industry source told The Vertical.

Forget that he hasn’t earned a shoe deal, but a $200 price point? That’s the very top of the market, more than the LeBron XIV (at full price on the Nike site), and LeBron has an established track record of being able to sell shoes. LeBron’s most expensive shoe is $220, and the latest KD’s go for $195. But again, those are established international stars who can sell shoes both domestically and overseas (especially China).

It’s not that shoe companies don’t want Lonzo Ball on their team, just not on his father’s terms. How good a point guard Ball will be as a pro is up for debate, some scouts and teams are high on him as a future All-Star level player, but another told me recently he sees a future average starting NBA point guard. Not bad, but not signature shoe deal good.

Don’t tell LaVar all this.

DePaula’s story notes that the two younger Ball brothers — LiAngelo and LaMelo — play for teams sponsored by Adidas (LiAngelo will attend UCLA next year, another Adidas school, but he is said not to be as good as his older brother). Maybe that cracks the door open with that company.

What frustrated people about LaVar is he seems to put making money and marketing ahead of success on the court. That’s not necessarily true, and to his credit Lonzo seems able to tune out his father’s “marketing” maneuvers, but there’s a sense of unearned entitlement that LaVar is unfairly placing on Lonzo. One plenty of NBA players will be ready to wipe out of Lonzo the first chance they get on the court.

James Dolan’s MSG threatens to sue Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers

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This story requires a little background.

The Forum in Inglewood was best known for decades as being both fabulous and the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, back from the Jerry West era and through Magic’s “Showtime” teams. Then in 2001 the Lakers moved downtown to Staples Center, and after that the Forum went through some rough times. It was a number of things, including a mega church for a while, but mostly it was empty. Then several years ago the Madison Square Garden company (owned by Knicks owner James Dolan) bought the Forum, fixed it up, and started booking it again. Now the Forum is one of the hot major concert/event spaces in Los Angeles again, and it’s about to get a boost because it’s adjacent to where Stan Kroenke is building the new Los Angeles Rams stadium. Hello gentrification!

Now enter Steve Ballmer. The Clippers’ owner wants out of Staples Center and the Lakers’ shadow, so he has proposed to build his new arena in Inglewood in another space adjacent to the Rams stadium — land that MSG used to lease. As you might imagine, Dolan’s MSG is not thrilled — they are already battling with Staples to fill their space, now a state-of-the-art arena is moving in down the street.

In a proxy Knicks/Clippers battle, MSG may sue to Clippers and Inglewood in an attempt to block the new building. Here is what Dolan’s attorney in the case, Marvin Putnam, told the Daily Breeze in Los Angeles.

“The mayor made it extremely clear that he needed that piece of land back for a kind of ‘Silicon Beach,’ ” said Marvin Putnam, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, which filed the damage claim that serves as a precursor to a lawsuit. “They’re attempting to flat-out trick people.”

(Inglewood Mayor James) Butts declined to comment, and there is no proof that he made those statements. But when Madison Square Garden Co. relinquished the parking lease to the city, its approved contract states that the land would not be used for anything that would hurt the Forum’s business, according to documents.

Right now the Clippers and Inglewood are in an exclusive negotiating agreement to come to terms on the sale and plans for the property. Putnam told the paper — and the Inglewood City Council — that if the deal goes forward they will sue to block it.

It’s impossible to say how this will turn out, although as a former government reporter I will say these cases tend to be decided in favor of the side about to spend a ton of money on a new building.

 

Jaylen Brown’s #drivebydunkchallenge video is awesome

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I love the drive by dunk challenge (if you prefer, the #drivebydunkchallenge), it would be the best thing on NBA Twitter this summer, if it wasn’t for Kyrie Irving.

But the best one yet comes from Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

He steals the ball, and the best part is the guy who comes over like he’s going to stop Brown from throwing it down.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.