Nike (NKE - Get Report)  appears to be conceding that sluggish sales of its flashy basketball sneakers -- backed by the NBA's biggest stars -- could be because they are just too damn expensive.

The footwear and apparel giant introduced the KD 9, which is the signature basketball sneaker of Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, on Monday at a more approachable retail price of $150. Past iterations of Durant's shoes have fetched about $200 upon their launch, most recently the KD 8 EXT "Floral Finish" and Nike KD Elite "Black" that debuted in May. The next two releases for the Durant line will also be more affordable -- the Nike KD 9 "USA" (which is decked out in red, white and blue for the summer Olympics) and KD 9 "Mic Drop" hit stores in July at $150, according to

One basketball line that isn't getting a price reduction by Nike? The line of NBA champ LeBron James. His three new signature sneakers launched in June at their usual $200. The Nike LeBron Soldier 10 "USA," which also rocks the patriotic colors for the Olympics, will arrive in stores in early July at an undetermined price. Based on the media attention following James' latest epic NBA Finals title with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Olympic-themed sneakers could hit for more than $200 as Nike tries to cash in all the attention

Clearly, Nike has to do something to reignite sales of its marquee basketball sneakers. 

Sales of basketball sneakers at Foot Locker (FL - Get Report) fell by a mid-single digit percentage during the quarter. Despite strong interest in Under Armour's (UA - Get Report)  Stephen Curry basketball sneakers, Nike's LeBron and Kevin Durant lines "proved the most challenging," said Foot Locker. Richard Johnson, Foot Locker CEO, said Nike was starting to "reset the price relationship" on its signature basketball sneakers. In other words, Nike is lowering opening price points on new styles such as those endorsed by Durant. 

Johnson added Foot Locker was dealt a "body blow" in its signature basketball business to kick off the year. On the positive side, Nike's Jordan brand had "excellent results," said Johnson.
"The Jordan business is exceptionally strong, while the Nike basketball business has been soft -- it's an item issue as [offerings from] Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James did not do as well last year," pointed out Sam Poser, a veteran footwear industry analyst and managing director at Sterne Agee.
Despite Nike willing to make some of its basketball sneakers cheaper, don't expect it to go on a price-slashing campaign for back-to-school shoppers. The Nike Kobe 11 Elite Low "4th of July," for example, hits stores on July 2 at a not so cool $220.