Jimmy Butler over the last few years has quickly turned himself from just another star among the many great players in the NBA to the face of a franchise competing for a title. Joining the Heat over the summer could not have gone any better for Butler than it has so far, with Miami among the top teams in the East and, individually, he is off to one of the best starts to a season of his career.
As such, his personal brand has never been so valuable, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Butler has chosen to part ways with Jordan Brand to become a sneaker free agent. According to Nick DePaula of ESPN, Butler and Jordan mutually agreed to part ways and terminated his contract early. He’s hoping to reach an agreement with a new brand by All-Star Weekend. Why the two sides chose to split though is unknown, beyond they could see the writing on the wall that they wouldn’t re-sign this fall. What is known is that now that Butler is a free agent many brands will want to bring him in.
Miami Heat small forward Jimmy Butler and the Jordan Brand have mutually agreed to part ways, bringing his multi-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with the company to an end 10 months before its original September 30, 2020 expiration date, industry sources have confirmed.
The split would make the four-time All-Star and four-time All-Defensive wing the highest profile sneaker free agent across the league. Butler is expected to now begin discussions with multiple brands towards negotiating a new multi-year endorsement deal that would begin this season, potentially in advance of All-Star Weekend.
Competing brands are just now learning of his sudden sneaker free agent status, but are expected to take strong interest in signing Butler to be a featured endorser, according to industry sources.
As for what brands figure to be in on Butler, one would expect Puma and New Balance to make a push, given that they’ve been linked to just about every major sneaker free agent over the last couple years as they both are keen on acquiring star talent. DePaula also notes that Li-Ning’s Way of Wade brand could be an option given Dwyane Wade’s connection to Butler and the brand recently expanding with the signing of D’Angelo Russell.
Butler and Wade have had a great relationship together ever since they played together in Chicago. Wade’s influence on Butler played a large role in him wanting to eventually join the Heat’s organization and Butler could continue his relationship with Wade as a business partner if he chooses to join Li-Ning.
Given how Butler approached his most recent basketball free agency, pushing out of Philly to join the Heat and be “the guy” in Miami, that might give us a clue on how he’ll approach his sneaker free agency as well. If that is the same path he wants to take with his sneakers, it’d be surprising to see him go to Nike or adidas (who he was with to start his NBA career), given they have established stars on their roster already that would be above him. Puma has a number of young players and hopeful rising stars, but not anyone quite at Butler’s level as an established All-Star level player, while New Balance has Kawhi Leonard but not much more. Li-Ning would give Butler an international marketplace and tie him further to Wade, but whatever the case, Butler will no longer be wearing the Jumpman anymore.