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Nike’s Not Ready To Let Kevin Durant Leave For Under Armour Just Yet (Update)

By 08.31.14
2014 USA Basketball Practice

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For everyone who blamed Jay Z and Roc Nation Sports for almost placing Kevin Durant in a position to leave Nike and become a rich man courtesy of Under Armour, it looks like the Roc’s negotiation tactics have KD still set to be a rich man without ever leaving the Swoosh. Because who willingly decides to wear UA basketball shoes?

Per a report by ESPN’s Marc Stein and Darren Rovell, Nike’s countered UA’s high astronomical offer – reportedly ranging close to $300 million – with one of their own, one that would keep Durant lacing up Nikes for the foreseeable future.

“Nike has countered Under Armour’s offer of between $265 million and $285 million and believes it will keep Kevin Durant for the next 10 years, sources told ESPN. Nike, whose seven-year deal that guaranteed Durant $60 million is expiring, made an initial offer of about $20 million a year that was far from what Durant was looking for. Under Armour’s huge play for Durant had many believing that Nike would even let him go at that price.

“But on Saturday, Nike officials told Durant and his team at Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports that it would indeed step up enough to allow the world’s largest shoe and apparel company to keep him in its robust stable of basketball endorsers that includes LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

“While the exact Nike offer for Durant isn’t known, sources told ESPN that Durant should make more — in base and royalties — than the Thunder will pay him over the next two seasons ($41.2 million). That’s why fans in Oklahoma City were nervous about a possible move to Under Armour, which could have steered him more to returning to his local roots to play for the Washington Wizards when he becomes a free agent after the 2015-16 season.

“Although the money was big, sources close to Durant say the decision weighed on him. Going back to Nike comes with a sense of relief, those sources said, because Durant, who has turned into one of the league’s most marketable stars, can still make significant money without being associated with the risks of Under Armour’s fledgling shoe business.” [ESPN]

The counter is a big move by Nike, especially since no one felt for sure that they were willing to a financial commitment that high to retain an athlete. For comparison purposes, Durant signed a $17 million deal with Nike when he first turned pro. Over the years, they’ve shied away from investing heavily in marquee players. But, if Durant were to accept, Nike’s current dominance in the hoops arena would remain…and none of us will have to worry about seeing less than attractive Under Armour kicks on the court during OKC games.

Speaking of the Thunder, Rovell also broached the topic of Durant leaving OKC for D.C. in two years when he becomes a free agent. The MVP made it known that while he wants to see his hometown sports teams do well he’s currently committed to the Thunder. “I don’t think about it at all unless someone brings it up,” maintained Durant. “I focus on my teammates, the organization, these great fans of Oklahoma City, the state of Oklahoma and fighting for them.”

 

Update: Per Rovell, Durant’s deal with Nike is now done.

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