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Puma signs likely No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, hires Jay-Z


When it was announced that likely top-three pick Marvin Bagley III signed a shoe endorsement deal with PUMA, we noted that they were going all in and spending big (Bagley’s contract is about three times the average high draft pick first shoe deal).

We didn’t know the half of it.

On Monday word came the German-based shoe manufacturer had also inked a deal with likely No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton, had signed their original endorser Walt “Clyde” Frazier to a lifetime deal, and hired Jay-Z to help with the branding and on the business side.

That’s a heck of a day. And a massive commitment to the market.

Winning over people to buy PUMA basketball shoes is going to take a few things (including making great shoes), but getting high-profile endorsers is part of it. Ayton can potentially be that for them, a global brand ambassador.

Nick DePaula of ESPN broke the Ayton news and had details from the player himself.

For Ayton, there was plenty of interest in pursuing a shoe deal with Puma, although the brand has been out of the basketball landscape for 20 years since signing Vince Carter in 1998. Ayton shares a connection to two of its biggest ambassadors, Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica and pop star Rihanna of Barbados, after growing up in the Caribbean.

“Puma is pretty popular in the Bahamas,” Ayton said. “I’ve always seen the brand growing up. [Bolt] is one of the first people I saw with the brand. It’s important to me that someone I identify with and admire as an athlete is with the same brand.”

PUMA also reached an endorsement deal with NBA rookie to be Zhaire Smith.

Going old-school with Frazier was a classy touch.

But the surprise news was the partnership with Jay-Z and his Roc Nation organization. Complex had the story.

On top of that, Jay-Z has joined as the company’s president of basketball operations. “We’ve been working with Roc Nation for quite some time. They’ve been great partners to us for several years. We’ve done many different deals with many different ambassadors,” Adam Petrick, Puma’s global director of brand and marketing, told Complex. When Puma approached him about this opportunity, Jay-Z felt it “was something he wanted to be a part of,” according to Petrick.

Hov will have a hand in the players selected to join Puma’s basketball division, as well as assist in the art design and overall concept and direction of the brand.

Will this work?

Maybe, despite Nike’s stranglehold on the basketball shoe market (through the Jordan brand as well as endorsers such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant), there is room to get a foothold in the space. However, this needs to be a long-term commitment from PUMA where they not only design quality products but keep doing it for years and years. It’s one thing to maybe buy a pair of retro low-top Clydes to wear around, it’s another to get people to change the shoes the play in. People trust Nike and their products (and, to a lesser extent, Adidas and UnderArmor). PUMA has a lot of work to do to earn that level of respect.

But you can’t fault them for coming back with a big splash.

Marvin Bagley III reportedly to sign shoe deal with Puma. Yes, Puma.

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Puma wants to jump back into the basketball game.

The last time we were talking about anyone wearing Puma on a basketball court (at any level) it was Vince Carter signing with them straight out of North Carolina — then instantly wanting out of the deal (jumping to Nike a year later). Walt “Clyde” Frazier wore Puma back in the day.

Puma is still prominent in soccer — they sponsor Arsenal FC, Borussia Dortmund, A.C. Milan, and others — as well as having a considerable presence in track and field (sponsoring the Jamaican national team, for one). Basketball had been ceded to Nike, and to a lesser degree Adidas.

No longer, they are going hard into this draft class to get new sponsors, reports Jon Krawczynski of the Athletic.

Even the top rookies don’t make that much money on shoe deals (relatively), the top picks getting deals in the $2 million to $3 million range. That’s the top end, often it is less.

For Puma to come in and land Bagley — almost a lock top three pick — or any other player, they would have to come in way over the top on those standard deals. They did, Durant’s deal was seven years, $60 million, so this likely is in the $9 million or more a year range.

We’ll see if it works for the Germany-based shoe company, basketball is a lucrative market, but it’s hard to break the Nike stranglehold on it.

Now, if Puma can design some suede game shoe’s were talking.

41-year-old Vince Carter plans to play one more season

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Vince Carter has spent this season toiling in relative anonymity in Sacramento, where he has provided a stabilizing veteran influence on and off the court for one of the league’s youngest teams and had a few moments on it, like dropping 24 on the Cavaliers one night (outscoring LeBron James). He’s been paid a tidy $8 million to do that and has filled the role well, plus provided 5.3 points a game and knocked down some threes in the 57 games he played in.

Carter says he’s not done.

In part of his diary for ESPN’s Undefeated, Carter said he wants to play one more season.

“I plan on coming back next season. I plan on coming back one more season. I’m almost 90 percent sure that’s it after next season. … You kind of go through the season, especially when the end is near, and you say, ‘Hey, how do I feel?’ The summertime kind of dictates it all…. I always said I’ll walk away from the game when I’m not willing to put the work in to be prepared for the season. I wouldn’t disrespect the game like that.

“I just think that after next season it is time. It’s been great … maybe two more years. But, you know, in my mind, I think it’s time for one more. And I think this summer will probably be the toughest summer. Probably just doing what I need to do to be prepared. I know I have to do it to be in the league. When I have to have those conversations with myself, I know it’s getting time.”

Where is he going to play? Well, that ties into how much money he’s willing to suit up for — if he will play for the minimum or close to it a number of teams, some very good ones, would have a roster spot available for him. However, if he expects to be in the $8 million range again his options narrow.

Either way, someone will give him a spot. We’re going to get one more season of Vince Carter.

Warriors say Patrick McCaw cleared MRI, will be released from hospital Sunday

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Golden State Warriors fans can exhale, at least for now. Patrick McCaw, who took a nasty fall on Saturday night and had to be stretchered off the floor, has reportedly been given the OK to be released from the hospital sometime on Sunday.

The play that injured McCaw came late in the third quarter. McCaw was going up for a dunk when Sacramento Kings wing Vince Carter undercut him, causing McCaw to fall on his tailbone and spine.

Carter was visibly upset with the boneheaded thing he did, and even went to speak to the Warriors after the game about the play.

Meanwhile, McCaw has cleared his tests at the hospital — including x-rays, a CT scan, and an MRI — and gets to come home.

Via Twitter:

There’s no timetable for return for McCaw, but the main thing on everyone’s mind is that no major damage has been done to his spine or other vital areas. That’s a relief considering how violent the fall was and how severe McCaw reacted at the time.

Golden State lost their opportunity to clinch the division — the Houston Rockets have done that — so now the focus has to be on getting as healthy as possible for the playoffs.

Warriors Patrick McCaw taken off on stretcher after Vince Carter undercut him on dunk


This was scary.

Late in the third quarter Saturday night, Warriors’ second-year player Patrick McCaw went up for a dunk and was undercut in the air by Vince Carter. Upon landing McCaw instantly rolled over and was writhing in pain. He was down nearly 10 minutes when the EMTs came out, strapped McCaw to a stretcher, and took him directly to the hospital.

Hopefully, this turns out to be nothing serious.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was yelling at Carter that he should “know better,” but it didn’t appear intentional and Carter was clearly troubled by what happened He does not have a reputation as a dirty player.

Carter was assessed a flagrant-1 foul.

The Warriors went on to win the game 112-96.