Kuzma, the No. 27 overall pick in 2017, seemingly caught Nike’s attention after averaging 21.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game at the tournament and taking home the Summer League Championship Game MVP. Since then, the 24-year-old’s star has only grown bigger, and so has the interest from shoe companies for his signature.
Kuzma is currently a shoe free agent and while he was reportedly in talks with Nike and their affiliate brand, Jordan, over a new contract, he’s close to signing a deal with Puma, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Hearing some buzz from the shoe game since arriving in China: Puma is closing in on a deal to sign the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma .. who was forced to withdraw from Team USA last month with an ankle injury— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 11, 2019
However, there is still time for another brand to swoop in, most notably Nike, who have 10 days to match whichever offer sheet Kuzma ends up signing, according to Nick DePaula of ESPN:
Kyle Kuzma is continuing to have ongoing shoe deal talks with Chinese brands, Puma and additional companies.— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) September 11, 2019
Brands are sending aggressive term sheet offers in the coming weeks, which Nike will have 10 business days to match once an offer sheet is signed.
Puma made their return to the basketball shoe game just last year, but they got off to a strong start, signing four of the top-15 picks in the 2018 NBA Draft — including the top-two picks, DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III — and veterans including DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Rudy Gay and Terry Rozier.
If Kuzma signs with Puma, he’ll have the opportunity to be one of the faces of the brand because of the large fanbase he’s built with the Lakers. To put things into perspective, Kuzma has more followers on Instagram than Ayton, Bagley, Gay and Rozier combined. The only Puma basketball athlete that has close to as many followers as Kuzma is Cousins, who has 3 million followers. Kuzma has 3.6 million followers.
Puma might not be as popular or proven as Nike, Jordan or even Adidas is in the basketball community, but they present him the best opportunity to build his brand and potentially have his own signature sneaker.
Or, should I say, another signature sneaker.