New Balance hoping to relaunch basketball division with Hayward.
A number of NBA All-Stars will be sneaker free agents come October, including Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, who is currently signed to Nike. According to Nick DePaula of ESPN.com, Hayward is expected to receive huge interest from a variety of brands, despite the fact that he missed all of last season due to a gruesome injury.
With Hayward being a member of the storied Boston Celtics, a team that figures to be in the title conversation for years to come, brands are even more interested in aligning with the 28-year old forward. According to DePaula, Hayward can begin meeting with teams in August and Boston-based New Balance is among the brands hoping to lock him up.
"One company with strong interest in Hayward is New Balance, which would look to re-launch its dormant basketball category with the Celtics star. The company's commitment to re-engage in hoops isn't entirely a secret, as it recently partnered with the Celtics on the team's new 70,000-square-foot Auerbach Center, the franchise's new state-of-the-art training facility."
Additionally, DePaula names Chinese-based brand Anta as a potential dark horse candidate to land Hayward because of the company's familiarity with the Celtics. Anta's initial roster of signature athletes included Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, both of whom signed on after winning the 2008 NBA title which established "a connection for Anta fans with the team ever since," according to DePaula.
Other upcoming sneaker free agents include Joel Embiid, DeMarcus Cousins, Andrew Wiggins and Kawhi Leonard, who will reportedly be dropped by Jordan Brand in October.