Should a Major Athletic Brand Sign NBA Star Lonzo Ball? Industry Analysts Weigh In

If internet speculation is correct, NBA star Lonzo Ball could be ready to move on entirely from the Big Baller Brand he helped create. But should a major label involved in basketball sign him?

Analysts think the answer is yes — but not for big money.

“Like many role players in the league, [brands such as] Nike sign them for a nominal amount of money, and they get another player who has a following wearing their footwear. So if that’s what we’re talking about here, sure, signing him makes sense,” explained The NPD Group Inc.’s senior sports industry analyst, Matt Powell. “But if they’re talking about spending big money on him, then no, I don’t see a return. It depends on the value of the deal.”

Powell continued to state brands shouldn’t invest more than $1 million or $2 million in Ball per year.

And B. Riley FBR analyst Jeff Van Sinderen thinks there’s an upside to having Ball on a sponsored-athlete roster.

“Seems like Lonzo is working hard to recover from his injury, and that suggests a persevering quality one would think is positive for a brand,” Van Sinderen said. “He has distanced himself from [Big Baller Brand] and would think the time is right for a deal with a new brand.”

But Susquehanna Financial LLLP analyst Sam Poser is a little more skeptical.

“Has Lonzo Ball done anything worthwhile? Is he somebody that people aspire to be? I don’t know. All I know is the fuss he’s made, his dad’s made a fuss, that he’s not a great teammate out in L.A. He’s not even an All-Star player,” Poser said.

Despite the skepticism, Poser believes he brings value to a brand at the right price.

“Is he worth signing? It depends on what return the brand wants to get. If they can pay him $100,000 a year or $10,000 to be part, then yeah, it’s probably worth it,” Poser said. “If he wants millions of dollars a year, it may not be worth it — unless the brand sees something from him, like he’s going to emerge into a great player, and we just don’t see that yet.”

But there is something brands should consider: the contentious relationship Ball’s father, LaVar, created with them trying to get the Big Baller Brand off the ground before Lonzo entered the NBA.

“Any brand should look at how prior relationships were handled,” Van Sinderen said. “However, the past does not equal the future, and with the right contract terms, a deal can be beneficial for both parties, while mitigating downside.”

Talks of a possible brand switch started last week when the Los Angeles Lakers baller announced that he was severing ties with Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster after discovering roughly $1.5 million allegedly missing from the personal and business accounts he managed. Since then, Ball got his BBB tattoo covered and posted an image on Instagram that resembled Nike’s “Dream Crazy” campaign, leading fans to believe his tenure with Big Baller Brand is over and a deal with the Swoosh is imminent.

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