NBA AM: The New 2014 NBA Draft Landscape

With both Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell and Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein opting to return to school for one more year, the landscape of the 2014 NBA Draft has changed somewhat… Damian LIllard get a new shoe deal, but there are myth about those deals worth talking about.

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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Pulling Out:  In a couple of surprising moves yesterday both big men that play in the state of Kentucky opted to return to school for another year and forgo the 2014 NBA Draft. Louisville big man Montrezl Harrell announced on Twitter that he would be returning to for his junior season, while Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein did the same, announcing on Twitter that he too will be returning for his junior campaign.

Both bigs were projected first round selections with Cauley-Stein generally considered a top 15 prospect. Cauley-Stein missed Kentucky’s Final Four run due to an ankle injury, which begs the question of how bad the injury really is and would it have affected his possible draft stock? Both players will now find themselves in an extremely deep 2015 Draft class next season.

With two more days of the NBA season remaining, a lot of the team standings are starting to get locked in, here is another Mock Draft look at the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, with both Cauley-Stein and Harrell out of the mix:

»In Related: Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects.

A Few Myths About Shoe Deals:  Yesterday adidas announced that they have a reached a new multi-year deal with Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. The deal is said to be eight years in length, with options and bonus triggers that could increase the deal to ten years. All in, the deal could be worth as much as $100 million if Lillard achieves all the milestones and incentives. Lillard’s new shoe deal is said to be one of the more lucrative deals in the business.

Unlike player contracts where the details of a deal eventually get out, shoe deals tend to have more mystery to them and as a result a lot more myths about them as well.

First off, shoe deals rarely include market based incentives. The NBA some time ago took a stance on bonuses paid to players to change markets. Most top tier shoe deals include some level of base compensation and lots of incentives and triggers.

For example, how many times a player is on national television, making All-Star weekend, being named a starter in the All-Star game, earning a spot in the postseason, advancing to the NBA Finals, winning a postseason award or getting named to an All-NBA team. Shoe companies tend to bonus almost anything that makes a player more notable or more visible.

»In Related: NBA Draft Picks Owed.

Another hidden component of a shoe deal is the money a company commits to marketing the player. This often includes TV ads featuring the player for brand building. LeBron James for instance not only receives a massive amount of cash from Nike, his deal also includes a massive marketing and promotions budget. In James’ case he gets almost as much marketing money as he does endorsement cash.

Have you ever wondered why there are these odd commercials for a player’s shoe that tend to be more about the player than the shoe? That’s why.

There is a lot of talk about signature shoe deals and it does seem that Lillard and adidas will roll out a Lillard shoe line as part of this new deal. These tend to be very risky for shoe companies, mainly because of the costs involved in crafting all of the products for a dedicated line.

The hope is always to hit a home run, but shoe brands are increasingly more interested in outfitting players in existing products or slightly customized versions of products than spinning up player specific products, the miss rate is pretty high.

Adidas went all in on Derrick Rose, giving him one of the more lucrative deals in the shoe business, but due to two seasons of injuries, they have failed to really capitalize on their investment. The D. Rose line has done OK in terms of sales, but given that Rose hasn’t played, adidas hasn’t exactly dominated the market as they hoped they would with Rose. Fortunately for adidas the Rose line has sold well both domestically and internationally, but it hasn’t been the runaway hits that the LeBron or Kevin Durant shoes have been.

Another big myth is about big guys. Bigs don’t sell shoes. While virtually all of the NBA’s elite big guys have lucrative shoes deals, very few of them actually make money for the companies that endorse them.

The logic is that the 13 year old kid on the playground can hope one day to be Rose, James or Lillard, but few kids will ever be as big and dominate as say Dwight Howard. There is a relational barrier that tends to translate in what kids buy, and let’s make no mistake about it: kids are the target audience for shoes.

There are a couple of interesting things to watch on the sneaker horizon – Kevin Durant’s deal with Nike is coming up and the 2014 NBA Draft class features several coveted players including Andrew Wiggins.

Adidas, who is said to own just five percent of the shoe marketplace in basketball, could open up their sizable checkbook and try and score a few more big names.

Insiders Video: Kevin Martin:

Wolves swing-man Kevin Martin talks about the issues the Wolves had this year, what looks to be a crazy off-season and the future of the team.

Today’s Six Things: Every day we try and give you six things you may have missed, so without further ado; here are today’s Six Things:

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Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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