Last week it was reported by ESPN’s Nick DePaula that Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler has severed ties with Jordan Brand as the two parties mutually agreed to part ways well before the deal’s original Sept. 30, 2020 expiration date.
BREAKING: Miami Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler and Jordan Brand have mutually parted ways, making him the highest profile current sneaker free agent.
Butler is now expected to begin negotiations with all brands for a new multi-year sneaker deal.https://t.co/FMi9shCplG
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) January 2, 2020
Butler’s pact with Jordan Brand ending prematurely makes him the most highly coveted sneaker free agent currently on the market, and DePaula is reporting that multiple suitors already have their sights set on the four-time All-Star.
“Butler is expected to begin discussions with multiple brands toward negotiating a new multiyear endorsement deal that would begin this season, potentially in advance of All-Star Weekend.”
Butler took a steep pay-cut to ink a deal with Jordan back in the 2014-15 season and despite making a huge financial sacrifice to join forces with Jumpman, he wasn’t touted as a priority during his time with the brand.
There’s no doubt that Butler rocked his fair share of heat during his time with JB, but he was never blessed with a signature shoe or even the bevy of PE’s higher-profile players on the roster such as Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook were regularly laced with.
We’d often see Butler sporting various team models in addition to JB’s annual Air Jordan shoe (Jimmy’s run in the Air Jordan 32 is hella underrated), leaving him on the outskirts of Jordan Brand’s true core.
Couple this with the fact that Jordan Brand has recently focused on birthing a youth movement headed by the likes of Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson and Jayson Tatum, and it becomes easy to see why both parties agreed to call it quits early.
Butler, who feels like he’s a superstar in his own right, was tired of being a middling man rocking J’s that you’d see marked down in the outlets a few months after release, and Jordan Brand probably felt like they stretched the partnership as far as it could go.
During a Q&A with Complex in Nov. of 2019, Butler revealed there was some disconnect between him and Jordan Brand, so the split between the two isn’t super shocking.
“Me and Jordan aren’t in a good space right now.”
So, what’s next for the man that’s leading this year’s surprising Miami Heat? There are numerous possibilities.
Both Puma and New Balance continue to hunt for ways to legitimize themselves in the realm of basketball sneakers and apparel and landing a player the caliber of Butler would help bolster both of their current standings.
Puma’s roster is littered with promising youngsters such as Kyle Kuzma, Marvin Bagley, and Michael Porter Jr., but they’ve yet to land a bonafide star.
They hoped that Los Angeles Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins was that guy, but injuries have dramatically changed the trajectory of his career and it’s doubtful he can return to star status.
Big men rarely tilt the sneaker market anyways, so the odds for Boogie seem insurmountable from the jump.
Butler, who is a wing, likely All-Star this season and plays in a sizable market down in Miami, checks all of those boxes, which would make him an enticing option for Puma.
New Balance remains eager to pair another All-Star alongside Kawhi Leonard to fortify their hoops campaign, as their current roster lacks star power outside of Leonard.
Snagging someone like Butler would be a good look because Leonard is always going to struggle to claim a considerable chunk of the athleticwear pie in Los Angeles.
LA is a Nike town thanks to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and current Purple & Gold employees LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who are both Nike athletes.
Butler would give New Balance another household name with more personality than Leonard, which would make for some stronger campaigning.
Adidas was the brand Butler spurned Air Jordan for back in 2014, but despite this fact, it would be hard to imagine that they wouldn’t entertain the idea of re-establishing a relationship with Butler and putting him at the forefront of a hoops campaign that currently includes the likes of James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Trae Young.
A better question to ask would be if Butler would consider re-engaging with Adidas, and I personally do not see that happening.
What makes sense to me would be Butler signing with Way of Wade, a subsidiary of Li-Ning, the Chinese sports brand that Wade joined forces with back in 2012 when he and Jordan Brand mutually agreed to part ways after a three-year partnership.
Wade and Butler’s relationship is well-documented. They not only played together with the Chicago Bulls, but Wade played a key role in recruiting Butler to the Heat this past offseason when he tested the free-agent waters for the first time in his career.
Golden State Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell just signed with Way of Wade after his contract with Nike expired, and pairing him with Butler would make for two All-Star caliber guards for Way of Wade/Li-Ning to push out in campaigns to help them fetch more of the American market.
Whatever Jimmy Butler decides to do when it comes to his next sneaker/apparel endorsement deal, I’m sure he hopes he meshes as well with the brand as he has with the Miami Heat, who as of this post are 26-10 and No. 3 in the Eastern Conference.