Is Kevin Durant Getting Ready to Ditch Nike for Under Armour?
NBA superstar Kevin Durant is a sneaker free agent, now that his deal with basketball powerhouse brand Nike is expiring, amidst the summer release of his seventh signature shoe, the Nike KD7. And given the dearth of marketable basketball players who can move product, too, Durant is all of a sudden a hot commodity. Like, $30 million a year hot.
That's how much Under Armour is reportedly ready to offer KD to jump ship from Nike and join UA, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. More:
Kevin Durant won’t hit the free agent market until July 2016 but the NBA’s Most Valuable Player is on the verge of landing a blockbuster endorsement deal that could influence his future on the court as well.
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 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.
“I’m just going to let my team be the ones who handle that behind the scenes, I guess,” Durant told ESPN last week. “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.”
Of course, it's all conjecture at this point, since we have no confirmation that Durant has met with anyone at Under Armour, and adidas and Nike will be given the opportunity to make their pitches. That said, KD apparently cancelled a previously scheduled trip to Nike HQ in Oregon, and today an Under Armour sports marketing exec posted this cryptic tweet:
$30 million represents far more than Durant makes each season from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Perhaps more importantly in basketball circles, KD's sneaker free agency is considered a preview of the summer for 2016, when he'll be an NBA free agent. Let the courtship begin.