There are plenty of reasons for Ben Simmons, the presumptive first or second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, to find the idea of the being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers appealing. The weather is great, the area is beautiful, and he would get to reunite with his former high school teammate D'Angelo Russell. His camp reportedly does want him to end up in Los Angeles, but not for any of those reasons.
Simmons' representatives want him to end up with the Lakers in hopes of Nike improving the shoe endorsement deal they are currently offering the freshman phenom out of LSU, according to Nick DePaula of the Vertical.
"The thinking from Simmons' camp is straightforward and simple: It's the Los Angeles Lakers or bust," writes DePaula, who reports that both Nike and Adidas are offering Simmons five-year deals, but that "Adidas is offering a $10 million deal that also includes a $2 million signing bonus and a $1 million incentive bonus for being named Rookie of the Year," while Nike has a "$7.5 million over five years with fewer performance incentives than the Adidas contract structure" on the table.
[Simmons' agents are] hoping that if the Lakers land the top overall pick - which they have a 19.9 percent chance of doing - Nike will move closer to matching adidas' offer.
Market size has mattered less in today's social-media age, where signature stars like Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and LeBron James have established themselves in historically lesser markets. But the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks will continue to be the exceptions that brands consistently focus on. For the first time in 20 seasons, the Lakers will not have Kobe Bryant next year, opening the door for a new face of the franchise.
This report would seem to poke a pretty large hole in the idea that market size doesn't matter to big name players, something consistently cited as a reason the Lakers have missed on free agents the past several offseasons. It seems that may come with a caveat: market may not matter to the biggest names, ones who will get gigantic shoe deals no matter where they play, but for players like Simmons on less sure (pardon the pun) footing, location still makes a difference.
Before anyone gets too excited about this, there is not a whole lot Simmons and company can do other than hope he ends up in Los Angeles, because he will have to play for whoever drafts him. The Lakers may not even have a first round pick to select Simmons with anyway, as of right now the team has a 44.2% chance to send their selection to the Philadelphia 76ers if it lands outside of the top-three draft selections following the results of the draft lottery on Tuesday.
Still, this information on how much of a financial difference ending up with the Lakers can make for players is interesting and noteworthy as the team moves forward with it's rebuilding efforts this summer.
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