At one point the key faces of Jordan Brand’s NBA roster, Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat will now enter “sneaker free agency”. According to Nick Depaula of ESPN, the athlete and the brand have severed ties nearly a year before the expiration date of September 30th, 2020, confirming recent reports that the Heat star was unhappy with the situation. This is an oddly similar shoe deal trajectory to former Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade, who signed with Jordan Brand in the Fall of 2009 only to have the relationship end in just three years. Butler could very well be approached by the growing presence oF Asia-based athletic sportswear brands such as Li-Ning, who has Wade hooked for life, or ANTA, which boasts a much younger core of stars such as Klay Thompson and Gordon Hayward.
Jimmy Butler took a steep paycut to sign with Jordan in 2015. He had a very honest and authentic relationship with the brand as a youth and even a pro, and with his growing stardom with the Bulls franchise, it appeared to be a match made in heaven. However, Butler was never given a signature shoe nor was he given the assortment of rare PEs like fellow Jumpman athlete Chris Paul does; instead, he was relegated to on-court models and was not much of a factor in the shoe conversation. Additionally, Jordan Brand is clearly focused on re-establishing the youth movement with Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson, and Jayson Tatum – a strategy that Butler truly has no place in. That said, Jimmy will likely receive more attention and financial investment from another company, and he’ll be rotating a number of brands (except for Jordan) until he puts pen to paper.
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
Photo via GQ