One of the San Antonio Spurs’ most promising talents has received a second contract within the 24 hours. According to The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania, Dejounte Murray has signed a “multi-million dollar” shoe endorsement deal with New Balance, who has returned to the basketball sneaker market over the past 12 months. This is after the young point guard reportedly signed a four-year, $64 million extension with the Spurs before the Oct. 21 deadline.
This is New Balance’s latest foray into basketball, returning in 2018 with Kawhi Leonard’s high-profile jump from the Jordan Brand and Darius Bazley’s unprecedented internship for $1 million. This is a different investment than those two, as the sports apparel and footwear company takes a player, not at a superstar level or as a rookie, but with a small sample size of NBA experience.
Murray, with two full seasons on his resume, missed the 2018-19 campaign due to a torn ACL. He returns for regular season games Wednesday night, with New Balance sneakers on both feet, representing a brand, that has him as one of their early faces. Taking a step forward as a fourth-year player raises the profile of New Balance’s return to basketball, and it could help expand the brand down the road.
The next potential step is a signature shoe. With a small group of New Balance representatives, perhaps Murray finds his own personalized sneaker at some point, which could also result from an improved year in San Antonio, retaking the starting point guard role and improving from a an All-NBA Defensive Second Team season in 2017-18.
He can follow Leonard, who has a signature shoe, the OMN1S, releasing. The two-time NBA champion is the face of New Balance’s basketball division, and playing in the Los Angeles, CA market only raises that profile.
This basketball-shoe revival is not limited to just New Balance, either. PUMA rejoined the field in 2018, investing in rookies from that year’s draft, to bank on having one of the NBA’s next big talents. This continued after the 2019 draft, when the New York Knicks’ RJ Barrett signed an endorsement deal. Former NBA players Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Jalen Rose have also worked with PUMA.
Murray’s endorsement with New Balance is just a continuation of the footwear market in basketball. Others may follow him as the season progresses. This is a lucrative time for the 23-year-old guard, though, as he locks in with this company and the Spurs for the foreseeable future.