Ja Morant, Nike Agree to Reported Multiyear Contract Ahead of 2019 NBA Draft

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2019

Ja Morant from Murray State, speaks with the media at the NBA draft basketball combine day one in Chicago, Thursday, May. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Ja Morant became the first top prospect of the 2019 draft class to ink a shoe contract, signing a multiyear deal with Nike on Monday.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the news. Morant later confirmed the deal in a tweet:

Morant is considered a heavy favorite to be the No. 2 overall pick to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Murray State product ranks second on Bleacher Report's Top 50 board behind only Duke's Zion Williamson.

While some could take issue with Morant being ranked ahead of RJ Barrett as a player, there's no question he's the second-most marketable star in this draft class. His game has a flourish that has drawn comparisons to Russell Westbrook. He's an out-of-this-world athlete who threw down a ton of highlight dunks and has a knack for finding flashy passes.

Morant is the first player in NCAA history to average 20 points and 10 assists in a season.

He told reporters at the combine:

"I feel like my IQ is the best part of my game, being able to make plays for me and my teammates. I really don't try to focus on scoring. I'd rather take an assist than score a bucket every single day but I feel like I can score the basketball.

"Coming from being under the radar, having not been paid attention to [at Murray State], it made me play with a chip on my shoulder. That's one of my motivations."

The Grizzlies own the No. 2 pick in June's draft and could take Morant as an heir apparent to Mike Conley, their starting point guard since 2007. They explored trading Conley at February's deadline and could do so again if they take Morant.

Williamson and Barrett are yet to sign endorsement contracts. A bidding war for Zion could reach $100 million as every shoe company lines up to land arguably the most famous NBA prospect since LeBron James.

Terms of Morant's shoe contract were not made available.

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