The list of notable sneaker free agents has a new marquee name as Heat star Jimmy Butler becomes the latest big-name NBA star to hit the market. Butler and Jordan Brand have mutually parted ways, according to Nick DePaula of ESPN.

The move comes as a surprise with Butler and Jordan Brand ending their partnership 10 months earlier than the original contract end date of September 2020. Butler has been a core member of Jordan Brand's roster since 2015 and has been featured in a number of the brand's global marketing campaigns.

On the court Butler has enjoyed nothing but success since joining Jordan, becoming a four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA player during that span. He inked a four-year, $140 million contract as part of the sign-and-trade deal that sent him to South Beach.

Here's everything you need to know about Butler's departure from Jordan Brand:

Why Leaving Jordan Brand Was Surprising

Butler and Jordan Brand seemed like a perfect match. So much so that Butler took a reported 75% less money to leave Adidas and join the Jordan Brand back in 2015, and he said this at the time in a Q&A with GQ:

It's not about the money. I do it because I love the game, for one. I think Mike takes care of his players. He's always saying how this is a Jordan family. Everybody's so cool to hang around, and you get a lot of respect, within that Jordan brand, to each and every individual, because you're significantly really good at your particular sport. So, I think it was an easy choice, moving on to Jordan.

It was an easy choice at the time for Butler who was coming into his own as a player in the NBA. Fast-forward to present day and he's arguably a top-ten player in the league who has become a four-time All-Star. The name Jimmy Butler holds way more value in 2020 than it did in 2015. 

Jimmy Butler wearing the Jordan 4 Carhartt Eminem back in 2018. Getty

As a member of Jordan Brand, Butler was an early contributor to the NBA's blossoming sneaker scene. As a member of the Timberwolves in 2018 he made headlines when he hit the court in the Jordan 4 Carharrt X Eminem sneaker, a shoe that was produced in extremely limited qualities and sits at over $25K in certain resale shops like Flight Club.

Butler's roots with Jordan Brand run very deep. He wore Jordan Brand products at Marquette after the program partnered with The Jumpman during his sophomore season in 2009-10. 

Signs Of A Rift Between Butler, Jordan Brand?

All the positives in the relationship between Butler and Jordan Brand make the mutual departure that much more surprising. But a close dissection of how Butler discussed Jordan Brand throughout the years suggests there could've been a possible disconnect between the two sides.

Butler was featured on Complex's Sneaker Shopping series in 2017 and he could not have sounded any more like a true company man, saying: "It's really all Jordan, I rep that brand. I don't wear too many Nike's. I'm a Jordan guy head-to-toe."

That dedication seemed to change over time and Butler had a different point of view in a Q&A with Complex last November. When asked about the pair of Nike's he was wearing and if he softened his stance on wearing other shoes besides Jordan's, Butler replied by saying: "Yeah. Me and Jordan aren't in a good space right now."

There's nothing to point at and say that's the reason for the parting of ways between Butler and Jordan Brand with certainty. 

Best Possible Landing Spots For Butler

What's next for Butler now that he's the biggest sneaker free agent on the market? Every major brand would be smart to pursue a player of Butler's stature and he's in line for a major endorsement deal wherever he signs.

Butler has ties with Adidas, the brand he signed with as a rookie out of Marquette but a reunion doesn't seem likely. Butler was on record saying that his only times experiencing foot issues during his career was while wearing Adidas shoes.

New Balance is a brand that has been cultivating its return to the basketball scene for quite some time. New Balance's roster of athletes includes Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Thunder forward Darius Bazley and Spurs guard Dejounte Murray. There's an opportunity there for Butler to become a core contributor while also fitting into the exact type of athlete and competitor New Balance is targeting.

"Over the next 10 years, we'll have ideally 5-10 guys max but they're all the right types of athletes. They're all these unique, independent thinkers that are different from the pack that want to get into this with us and help grow this brand," said Patrick Caddidy, New Balance's Global Marketing Director of Consumer and Athlete Activation, in an interview with CBS Sports in December. "There's no quantity over quality play at any point in any plans. Who are the right athletes at the right time that are going to help us tell the story about New Balance Basketball while also building their personal brands as well."

Another route that makes sense for Butler would be to follow in the steps of former teammate Dwyane Wade and join Chinese sporting brand Li-Ning. Wade famously left Jordan Brand for his own signature sneaker with Li-Ning in 2012.

Li-Ning continues to expand its NBA roster and recently added another All-Star in Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell