There's one team LeBron has been with his entire career, and we know he will retire being on their team. That team is Nike. Estimates are that over the lifetime of his deal with Nike, LeBron will make a billion dollars through that partnership. No other company or NBA team will spend as much on LeBron as they did. Nike dominates the basketball sneaker market, but other companies are trying to catch up, and the great white whale is out there.
Luka Dončić is a sneaker free agent. Luka has everything you want in a sneaker brand ambassador - he is a playmaker, which means there are a lot of flashy highlights every night; he is young, so you can do a lot with social media; he is playing out of his mind and could finish top 3 in MVP voting in his second season in the NBA. Knock on wood he has an injury-free career and you are looking at a long, successful career.
That's why every company out there, including Jordan, Under Armour, and Puma is trying to get Luka to sign with them. When it comes to sneakers, Luka is a restricted free agent. Any offer he receives, Nike has 10 days to match. But, Luka's camp is taking it easy. He's been playing well and his price is only going to go up. According to Nick DePaula, there is a magic phrase that could help teams seal the deal (via The Jump):
"For Luka, they're holding out. They want to see what kind of offers they can get. If somebody says the magic word 'signature shoe,' that might be what seals the deal."
This summer we had the first international player release a signature shoe, and that was Giannis with The Freak 1. The shoe has been doing well, so Luka getting a signature deal is a reality. Usually, every new contract is bigger than the last one, but it is hard to believe anyone could get close to what Jordan and LeBron are making with Nike.
But as a reference point, it is estimated Giannis makes around $10 million a year with his sneaker deal, and Zion's deal is estimated to be around $13 million a year, including incentives. Luka said LeBron was one of his main role models on the court. It will be interesting to see if he will look up to him off the court and value long-term potential over the dollar amount on the offer sheet.