Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the biggest sneaker free agent in the NBA, announced on social media on Tuesday that he has re-signed with Nike.
Terms were not immediately available.
A key component of the new Nike deal for Antetokounmpo, sources said, is that it also includes the creation of a signature shoe. The process of designing a signature shoe is typically part of a 14-18 month timeline.
With the Bucks set to play the Portland Trail Blazers later this month on Nov. 30, Nike is looking to begin that process over the coming weeks and again in person at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. It is likely that the soonest a "Giannis 1" sneaker would release would be during the fall or holiday seasons of 2019, according to insiders.
With his initial four-year Nike sneaker deal expired on Oct. 1, the Bucks' positionless phenom was a key target of competing brands like Adidas and Chinese footwear company Li-Ning. Sources said both companies made aggressive pitches to the reigning NBA Most Improved Player, whose dominant play this season has already pushed him into the top of the league's MVP race.
Despite Milwaukee's being the NBA's fourth-smallest market, Antetokounmpo has had no problems attracting attention with his stellar play. Antetokounmpo is third in the league this year in jersey sales, according to data from Fanatics.
"I've always said that I think he's one of those guys that has the potential to transcend his market," his agent, Alex Saratsis, told ESPN at the start of this process. "I think he's showing that he can do that. I think he's one of the few players that could have a truly global appeal."
Although big men have not typically fared well in selling sneakers in decades past, today's most high-profile forwards and centers, including Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Kristaps Porzingis, are seen as positionless stars with versatile, explosives games that are still highly marketable, as opposed to the more methodical, post-up centers of the 1990s.
It's not a surprise that Nike was committed to keeping Antetokounmpo on its roster, as last fall, it declined to exercise its "match clause" and let Porzingis sign with Adidas. Both players now have the largest basketball shoe deals ever given to European players.
As the season unfolds, the Bucks star is expected to wear a variety of player exclusive editions of Nike's new Kobe AD midtop sneaker.