Sneaker Contracts Are Keeping Some NBA Stars Away From LeBron’s ‘Space Jam 2’

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With the Lakers season over, exit interviews done and, uh, Magic Johnson gone, LeBron James can officially turn his attention to his summer projects.

The biggest of those is Space Jam 2, which is due out in a couple of years and is supposed to begin filming this summer. One of the biggest issues for LeBron and Warner Brothers right now is filling out the cast, particularly with regards to bringing in other NBA stars.

In the original, the Monstars steal the powers of Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, and Shawn Bradley, and one would assume the second would need at least something similar for the plot. The issue Warner Brothers is apparently running into is not everyone wants to be, or can be, involved. Giannis Antetokounmpo has already reportedly turned down a role, which is rather big given his stature in the NBA and, most importantly, that he’s one of the biggest stars on Nike’s roster.

See, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, sneaker contracts are getting in the way of non-Nike or Jordan athletes joining the cast. This isn’t surprising given how a Nike ad inspired the first movie, but it is keeping some of the bigger names in basketball away from the film.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that fellow All-Stars Stephen Curry, James Harden and Kevin Durant likely won’t join James on the celluloid court. But that has more to do with sneaker contracts and the film’s script — the latest version is being penned by Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler and Searching’s Sev Ohanian — and less to do with James’ ability to enlist high-profile ballers. In fact, Warner Bros. is responsible for roping in talent, not James.

Assuming this holds true and no non-Nike stars enter the mix, you’re talking about a good chunk of All-Stars that wouldn’t sign on to join the cast. James Harden, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson would all figure to be out of the running. If you take out KD and Giannis from the Nike roster, the All-Star potential from the Nike roster shrinks a decent bit. That siad, there are still plenty of big names that make sense and are Nike or Jordan athletes that could join the cast.

Blake Griffin makes a ton of sense, given his comedic chops and acting experience. Anthony Davis is a Klutch client, friend of LeBron’s, and, you know, would make for a good big man Monstar — if they follow the same formula. Ben Simmons is another Klutch client that would make for a good Monstar. Kyrie Irving would be a fascinating addition to the cast, as he also has feature film experience and has apparently squashed any issues with LeBron from his departure from Cleveland. The OKC tandem of Russell Westbrook and Paul George also are Nike/Jordan athletes that would make sense — and have ties to L.A. during the offseason.

There are clearly still plenty of Nike and Jordan athletes capable of filling out quite the strong Monstar roster, but as we continue to hear names saying no, questions will persist about who will actually find their way onto the screen with LeBron.