When Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard decides whether to leave his current team for a new one, among the factors he need consider is what marketing advantage he might gain from playing in a market larger than Orlando's, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. "According to people familiar with his strategy," Berger says, increasing endorsement opportunities is "no less important" than whatever monetary advantage the Magic can offer in contract negotiations by dint of being his current team.
"Is the idea that bigger markets offer more lucrative endorsement opportunities an antiquated concept," asks Berger, "or one that actually would matter to a player like Howard, who already has become one of the most popular basketball players in the world after seven-plus years in Orlando?"
Howard's presumed free-agent destination, even if Orlando retains him beyond Thursday's NBA trade deadline, is Brooklyn, where the New Jersey Nets will move next season. Howard would team with All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who joined the Nets via trade from the small-market Utah Jazz prior to the 2011 deadline. According to Jeff Schwartz, Williams' agent, the potential for more endorsements in New York isn't negligible.
"In the last eight or nine months, Deron has signed national deals with Audi, Red Bull and Metro PCS," Schwartz told Berger. "He's also done a number of regional deals with other companies. Being in a larger market, there's always more opportunities, and coupled with the fact that the Nets are moving to Brooklyn, there's going to be a lot of corporate interest in both the team and its star players."
Interestingly, Berger's latest report comes on the heels of Howard signing another endorsement contract despite playing in Orlando. Mission Athletecare, a company whose products include grip enhancements, announced a partnership with Howard on Wednesday. He joins Dwyane Wade, Brandon Jennings, and Steve Nash among NBA players to endorse the product.
Howard first publicly expressed his interest in playing for a large-market team during an October interview with Scott Raab of Esquire. "There's more you can do in a bigger place," he said then.