Kevin Durant’s endorsement deal with Nike is expiring this week, and his status as a sneaker free agent might soon become a hot topic around the League, as Under Armour has reportedly shown strong interest in trying to lure KD away from Nike. These are only rumors right now, as nothing has been confirmed (and in fact KD has yet to formally meet with UA), but with a reported $30 million annually being the range in which Under Armour would offer, could Durant be considering a change in sneaker companies? Of course, adidas and Nike will make their pitches, too. Here’s what Frank Isola of the New York Daily News is reporting, which includes a hint that an Under Armour deal might be beneficial to the Washington Wizards’ chances of landing Durant when his deal with OKC is up:
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.”
A deal with Under Armour could also be beneficial to the Washington Wizards, one of several teams, including the Knicks and Nets, putting themselves in position financially to make a run at Durant in two summers.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Under Armour Founder/CEO Kevin Plank, a University of Maryland graduate, have been involved in several philanthropic endeavors in the D.C. area.
A potential Durant deal with Under Armour doesn’t guarantee the Wizards of landing Durant but for the star-crossed franchise any connection to the Maryland/D.C. area doesn’t hurt either.