You would rarely think that leaving a company like NIKE would be of any benefit for anyone – but Kevin Durant is currently weighing up an offer from Under Armour reportedly to be $32.5 million plus over 10 years. That is some serious cash and it is no wonder Durant is leaning heavily towards accepting the offer. Leaving Nike would be a very tough thing to do, but that offer might just be too good to refuse.
Stephen Curry moved from Nike to Under Armour and was their biggest signing. If Durant joins the Under Armour Army, he certainly takes the mantle as the lead athlete for the brand. The reigning MVP is a media darling and his stocks only seem too be rising. The 25 year old hasn’t even reached his prime on a basketball court yet.
Doubters will say that Nike is a superior product and that leaving them would be a silly idea. Durant has never had any major injuries (touch wood) and he seems to be a perfect fit with Nike – so why would he leave? Outside of the huge offer being thrown at him, it gives him the chance to forge his own career path and control his financial future.
The latter might be a very good thing for OKC.
Modern day basketball has seen the creation of “superteams” where you team up with your buddies and try to run rampant over the rest of the league. However, with most stars still commanding reasonable dollars, this era might be short lived. The Miami Heat were only partially successful and were thwarted on two tries by the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs model is the one that is the most intriguing. While the Cleveland Cavaliers obviously still believe buying a ring is possible (big money deals for Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and according to all reports Kevin Love) many teams are hoping to try and achieve the roster balance the Spurs represent.
In order to recreate what the Spurs have done, it will require superstar talent to take less money to keep the team under the luxury tax and allow them to purchase the role players needed to carve out an NBA Championship squad. It’s not always easy to ask player to accept less than market value, regardless of their affinity for your organization or their desire to win. Players like Eric Bledsoe are proving this as we speak. So, if the Thunder want to really create a dynasty in OKC, they are going to have to get Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson to buy in.
That task is made a LOT easier if Durant is already making big, big money off the court through endorsements like the Under Armour deal.
As KD closes in on a huge off court payday, people are wondering if Nike will come to the party. It doesn’t seem likely at this point, although you wouldn’t think that losing an athlete with Durant’s talent and marketability would be a white wash. If Nike are still keen on KD – and let’s face it, of course they are after building a relationship with the MVP for nearly a decade, they will need to convince Durant to stay with the brand he knows and loves OR they will have to match the offer from UA.
This is all very good news for the Thunder. The more Kevin Durant can command away from the Oklahoma City Thunder’s salary cap, the better. Then perhaps he can follow down the path of one team legends like Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki. Players who have remained loyal and have tasted the ultimate success.