Rumor: Zion Williamson expected to earn up to $100 million on shoe deal

Projected No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson has made waves in the NBA and that trend will only continue when he signs his sneaker deal.

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After an incredible year at Duke, “several industry experts” reportedly believe Williamson could earn somewhere between $50 million and $100 million. Especially after the incident where his shoe exploded during a game and forced him to miss time, his price could go up even higher.

Industry expert Sonny Vaccaro said this was a fair estimate because the Duke superstar is the “most marketable player” that he has ever seen. Bob Dorfman from Baker Street Advertising agreed. Here is what Dorfman said about Williamson (via Forbes):

“In 2007, Kevin Durant got $60 million over seven years with a $12 million signing bonus. Assuming he’s healthy and helps Duke go far in the NCAA Tournament, Zion could get $100 million.”

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For comparison, ESPN reports that LeBron James asked for $100 million to sign with Reebok in 2003. James eventually signed an $87-million deal over seven years with Nike.

Durant was reportedly offered $70 million over seven years to sign with Adidas back in 2007, though opted to sign with Nike for a $60-million deal over six years instead.

For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Dan Le Batard estimates Williamson will net an offer of $80 million from Nike. With an average annual value of around $10 million, that means there will assuredly be a signature sneaker for Willamson sold at every major retailer at some point soon.

According to BetOnline.ag, the current favorite to land Williamson is Adidas with an implied probability of 44.4 percent. Nike (40.0 percent) trails by just a touch while Puma (18.2 percent), New Balance (5.9 percent) and Under Armour (5.9 percent) will assuredly at least make inquiries.

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ESPN’s Nick De Paula reported that Jordan Brand may also be making an internal push for Williamson, who was long considered destined for Adidas before his college basketball days at Nike-branded Duke. Vaccaro believes Williamson may have more value to Puma, New Balance or Under Armour than he may for Nike or Adidas (via ESPN):

“What Michael did for Nike, Zion could do for somebody new,” Vaccaro said. “What Steph Curry did for Under Armour — they weren’t new, but they weren’t there … I would find a new way to make him America’s child. I just think America loves Zion Williamson.”

Under Armour, however, may be less willing to throw as much money after recently securing Joel Embiid on such a lucrative contract. Perhaps another company like Anta, who has Golden State’s Klay Thompson on the books for $80 million, could make a push?

Regardless, agents typically earn somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of the commissioned deals from their clients. As such, even before his NBA contract as the likely No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, his representation could net between $5 million and $20 million from the deal.

That is no small figure and could go a long way in terms of client services as Williamson continues to grow within the league.

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