Kurt Helin

James Harden

Report: Nike will not match $200 million offer, James Harden to sign with Adidas

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This was the only hint you needed: James Harden was playing in the Drew League playoffs last weekend in Los Angeles and his girlfriend (apparently) Khloe Kardashian showed up to watch him ball — fully decked out in Adidas gear.

Harden had gotten a reported 13-year, $200 million offer from Adidas to become the face of that brand and, after much deliberation, Nike has decided not to match it. TMZ was first with this story.

Our Nike sources tell us the company has decided it won’t try to top the $200 million deal Adidas offered Harden last week. As we’ve reported … Nike had concerns about sinking that much dough into just ONE player, when it has several other superstars to sign.

Harden has yet to officially accept Adidas’ 13-year deal, but the writing is on the wall … or on Khloe’s back. She was sporting Adidas gear at his Drew League game this weekend.

Nike still has LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, plus a number of stars under the Air Jordan brand — Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook, to name a few.

But they had missed out on Stephen Curry (he signed with Under Armour) and there was reported concern the company didn’t want to lose another big name and would match. Turns out, they are not that worried.

Harden becomes the biggest star in the Adidas NBA universe, replacing Derrick Rose (his struggles to stay on the court hurt sales). Adidas can’t get his signature shoe to market fast enough. They also have John Wall, Damian Lillard and others under contract. However, Harden’s teammate in Houston Dwight Howard is rumored to be leaving the brand soon

The question is will the Harden signing move the needle on shoe sales? Nike has incredible customer loyalty and a product people love and trust, which is why they still have 90 percent of the basketball shoe market. It’s not just the Jordan name.

But Adidas needs some star power to start chipping away at Nike’s dominance (especially after Nike outbid them for the NBA apparel contract), and Harden with his beard is a good start.

Spike Lee narrates Stephen Curry story in fantastic NBA 2K16 promo (VIDEO)

NBA 2K16 Curry
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That is quality. Basketball stories just sound better when Spike Lee narrates them.

The folks at 2K sports are starting to ramp up the promos for the new season, with heavy Stephen Curry promotion. Add this to the list.

But his is a great, relatable story — we all like to think we’re the overlooked person who has the talent to make it — and they are smart to pimp it hard as we start to move closer to the game’s release date.

Patty Mills to replace Dante Exum on Australia roster for big series vs. New Zealand

autralia-Patty Mills
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Starting Saturday, Australia will face New Zealand in a two-game, home-and-home series with the winner (cumulative score) getting an automatic berth to the 2016 Rio Olympics. There’s a lot on the line.

So when Australian point guard DanteExum went down with an ACL tear that will keep him out of the series (and likely the next NBA season), the Boomers reached out to Patty Mills. The Spurs’ point guard had begged out of the Olympic qualifier, but when coach Andrej Lemanis reached out with an emergency plea after the Exum injury, Mills jumped in.

Mills confirmed to Basketball Australia that he will play for the team in the two-game set.

“I’m looking forward to joining my Boomers teammates for this very important qualification series against New Zealand,” he said. “Playing for my country has always been an honour for me.

“Obviously my shoulder injury last year meant that I had to continue intensive rehab and quality training over the past few months. I’ve done that and will be ready for the Oceania Championships. My focus now is helping my Boomers teammates qualify for Rio 2016.”

He also posted this on Instagram.

🇦🇺👍🏾

A photo posted by Patty Mills (@balapat) on

The injury he references is off-season shoulder surgery he had after the Spurs won the title in 2014. It took the first couple months of last season for Mills to find his old groove again but the shoulder still bothered him, and the Spurs asked Mills to sit out the series. Which is what he had planned to do.

Mills is the best available point guard the Australians could get (you can argue he’s an upgrade over Exum, he certainly is on the offensive end), and he’s played internationally for the team and coach before, so it’s not like he has to learn a new system.

The downside is he was not the point guard through the team’s four tune-up games, he’s coming in cold to a huge series. That said, Australia has real talent with the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut and the Cavaliers Matthew Dellavedova on the roster as well (plus some well-seasoned international players).

No rest for Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks’ rookie working to add weight, sharpen game

porzingis
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Kristaps Porzingis impressed at Summer League in Las Vegas — he looked like he belonged among the top bigs such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor. Porzingis averaged just more than 10 touches a game at Summer League and was efficient, scoring 1.024 points per possession (better than Towns or Okafor). Porzingis showed a high basketball IQ, good passing skills, the ability to play inside, and his defense was better than advertised.

But he was also clearly a project — he’s very thin and very raw.

So he’s in New York now working on adding weight and sharpening his game. You still have to love his attitude in what he told Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“I’m in between happy and my normal calm,’’ Porzingis told The Post. “I’m not thinking: ‘I did good in summer league — now I’m going to do good in the NBA.’ Our training camp will start later and I have to prove myself once again, play as hard as I can and earn my minutes. That was just summer league — a few games to see how I compare to other rookies and get a taste of American basketball.’’

 

He took a little vacation back home to Latvia after Summer League but is now back working out at the Knicks facility.

“At home I was working out with my brother [Janis] a little bit, lifting weights, going to the gym, getting shots up, but I just wanted to relax a bit,’’ Porzingis said. “Once I’m here full time now, I can just concentrate on eating a lot, lifting a lot and getting stronger…

“I thought I would go home and rest, but it was all interviews, media stuff,’’ he said. “A lot of interest back home, too, kind of intense. Just the last few days I went to the beach.’’

 

Knicks fans shouldn’t expect too much out of Porzingis his rookie year — looking good at Summer League and looking good in an NBA game are two very different things. He’s got to add muscle, and that will take time. Plus just adjusting to the length and athleticism of NBA players, plus learning where he fits in the triangle, will be a process. 

But you can see the potential. Knicks coach Derek Fisher did.

“Just how it complements so many different players and situations,” Fisher said in Las Vegas. “I think defensively he complements guys because of his length and his rim protection. He’s pretty active and can guard multiple guys. I think offensively because of his ability to stretch the floor and do some things around the basket as well. I think he’s a player that fits with just about any lineup, no matter how you’re trying to play. So I think that versatility has been obvious during Summer League.”

Under Armour to be presenting sponsor of NBA Draft Combine, expand role within league

2015 NBA Finals - Game Three
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Under Armour got its foot in the door with the NBA.

The company has wanted to expand its role with the league — most notably it has a shoe deal with Stephen Curry — but weren’t a lot of opportunities, especially after Nike outbid everyone to take over making the official NBA jerseys and apparel starting in 2017 (Adidas does it now). Samsung is the naming sponsor for Summer League. What was left?

The NBA Draft Combine.

Which will be the Under Armour NBA Draft Combine starting in 2018, the league and Under Armour announced Monday. The company will be allowed to develop and market apparel based on the combine as part of this deal. Also, the shoe company will help market and grow the Jr. NBA, the league’s youth basketball program.

The NBA combine is not a huge marketing event (unlike the NFL version). However, now before guys get to put on an NBA jersey, they are going to put on Under Armour gear.

For the NBA, this is an opportunity to grow their youth program and introduce a new NBA Fit app, which will be tied in with Under Armour’s Connected Fitness devices and products.

“We’re proud to expand our partnership with the NBA and continue our shared commitment to help basketball players everywhere realize their potential, on and off the court,” Adam Peake, Executive Vice President of Under Armour said in a statement.  “The new elements of our partnership will allow Under Armour to leverage our leadership in athletic performance innovation and Connected Fitness to foster the worldwide growth of basketball.”

“Under Armour and the NBA share a commitment to basketball, fitness, and healthy living,” Emilio Collins, NBA Executive Vice President, Global Marketing Partnerships, said in a statement.  “Together we have a unique opportunity to teach the values of the game to millions of kids through the Jr. NBA program, and to give our fans the latest information on exercise and wellness through the NBA FIT app.”

It’s a good effort by Under Armour — there simply were not many options to get an expanded role with the NBA, and certainly not where they could make apparel. But they found one.

They got their foot farther in the door.