Sources: Puma back in hoops biz, signs Bagley

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Top NBA draft prospect Marvin Bagley III has signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Puma, ESPN has confirmed with multiple sources Thursday.

As part of a plan to aggressively relaunch its basketball footwear business, Bagley was expected to be a featured athlete in several upcoming category and brand global initiatives.

News of an imminent contract was first reported by The Athletic.

Unlike most upstart basketball brands looking to enter the competitive and Nike-dominated footwear landscape, Puma has a longtime global infrastructure of marketing and design resources that will be invaluable as it begins to build a basketball business. The brand boasts over 600 stores globally, reaching over 40 countries at retail.

Puma will also plan to sign additional rookies in the 2018 draft, before turning their sights toward signing several established players that have existing shoe deals expiring later this fall. The brand has found recent success and a resurgence in the marketplace thanks to partnerships with entertainment mogul Jay-Z, pop star Rihanna and several other endorsers in the lifestyle category.

The company’s most notable sports spokesman in North America has been golfer Rickie Fowler, a fan favorite whose orange has adorned the galleries but has yet to win a major championship.

Puma also on Thursday signed Manchester United soccer player and Belgium international Romelu Lukaku to a multiyear deal that sources told ESPN was the largest sponsorship deal in the company’s history.

It is the first NBA shoe deal for the brand since Puma had signed high-flyer Vince Carter two decades ago after the 1998 NBA draft. Carter’s 10-year, $50 million deal was short-lived, as the two sides parted ways during the middle of just his second season.

For Bagley, the deal comes as a bit of a surprise in industry circles because of his close association with Nike throughout his high school and collegiate career. Nike funded his father’s AAU summer basketball team throughout the younger Bagley’s prep career. The team was originally dubbed the “PHX Phamily,” and later renamed to simply “NIKE Phamily.”

Bagley was a fixture playing against proven pros at the Nike-sponsored Drew League last summer in Los Angeles, before going on to star at Nike-sponsored Duke during his lone college season, where he averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds.

As part of his new endorsement deal with Puma, the brand will also commit to a grassroots infrastructure with the Bagley family that will focus on skill development for a future generation of AAU players.

Bagley is currently projected as the fifth-best prospect in the 2018 NBA draft class by ESPN scouting analysts Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell contributed to this report.



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