We’ll have to wait a couple off-seasons for Kevin Durant to become a free agent, but his current seven-year, $60 million deal with Nike is about to expire, with upstart brand Under Armour waiting in the wings. A recent report from Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, cites a source who says KD could land a deal that pays him $30 million annually to switch companies and join the Maryland-based Under Armour, Inc.
According to a person familiar with negotiations, Durant, whose seven-year, $60 million deal with Nike is expiring, could earn as much as $30 million annually if he signs with Under Armour Inc., whose headquarters are in Durant’s home state of Maryland.
Nike and Adidas [sic] are also in talks with Durant, whose combination of brilliance on the court and marketability in the aftermath of his emotional MVP speech has made him the darling of Madison Avenue.
Durant told ESPN last week, “I’m just going to let my team be the ones who handle that behind the scenes, I guess. When you look at stuff like that, it’s great problems to have because people want you for what you know and do on the basketball court, the work you put in, so I’m going to continue to put my work in, let them focus on that on the other end, and we’ll come together at some point.”
Under Armour isn’t as well known for their basketball as the other brands looking to sign KD. Except for a beautiful signature line they’ve done with Stephen Curry: the Anatomix Spawn is really one of our favorites, they’ve usually ceded the big name NBA players to others.
Since Under Armour is not beholden to the cadre of stars adidas and Nike currently endorse — Kemba Walker is a part of Under Armour, but there aren’t that many others — they likely have the money to make a godfather offer like the $30 million per year Lawrence is reporting.
Lawrence also mentions how the switch could affect Durant’s impending free agency in the summer of 2016. Under Armour, Inc. headquarters resides in Maryland, and Wizards owner Ted Leonis has participated in a number of philanthropic endeavors with Under Armour CEO, Kevin Plank.
The Wizards have already been spotlighted by us as a potential landing spot for Durant two summers from now, a move that would ironically hinder the small-market Thunder after the collective bargaining agreement limited the number of years on a player’s contract. This means they’ll have two more seasons to convince Durant he should stay in town.
Durant grew up outside of Washington DC, and his comments about LeBron James‘ decision to head home have fueled all the speculation he might leave for the Wizards — who are busy creating cap space to accommodate a max deal should Durant be available in the summer of ’16.
A new deal with Under Armour would probably make the Wizards the co-favorites with the Thunder to land their hometown star even though Durant is emotionally invested in the Oklahoma City franchise. A deal that pays $30 million a year would be hard for anyone to pass up, and as Durant said, he’s letting his group handle the off-the-court negotiations. But if you’re a Wizards fan, this is just another indicator KD’s lanky silhouette is on the horizon.
What do you think?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.