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Kevin Durant has long been the eye of an off-court storm between those agents and marketing people who want to catch the NBA's rising marketing star early. It has long been assumed that he has the chance to earn LeBron James-type marketing dollars.
But we're well past the draft, and well into summer league and this young man still does not, as far as we know, have that centerpiece shoe endorsement. His agent, Aaron Goodwin, negotiated the biggest shoe deal ever for former client LeBron James. It was once thought that Durant's deal might be almost as big. It's no surprise that Nike and adidas have been duking it out.
On Sunday, ESPN's Chris Sheridan reported:
There still has not been a decision from Kevin Durant's camp about what company he'll sign with for his shoe deal. When adidas executive Travis Gonzolez saw Durant's agent, Aaron Goodwin, walking around clad completely in Nike gear on Friday, he thought the swoosh folks had won. But Goodwin told him that wasn't the case, so the adidas rep sent Goodwin an outfit of adidas clothing. And on Saturday, Goodwin was spotted walking through the arena wearing adidas gear head-to-toe.
So, what's the story? Why the big delay? These deals are often done before the draft. Sports Business Radio's Brian Berger, who knows a lot of sneaker people and broke the news of Greg Oden's Nike deal, has anonymous sources who explain the situation this way:
Why is this taking so long? According to my well informed sources, Goodwin and Durant have an agreement that Goodwin only gets paid on a shoe deal that is greater than $40M. Anything less than that and he doesn't get a dime. If this is in fact true, its a shrewd move by the 18-year old Durant or whomever is advising him. The numbers being thrown around early in the Durant shoe negotiations were all north of $40M and some people even predicted that Durant could get as much as $60M for his shoe deal. So if you're Goodwin, you're probably thinking that $40M is a pretty darn reasonable target.
Well things started to drag on and the offers from Nike and adidas certainly weren't becoming more lucrative. According to my sources, adidas has a $40M deal on the table for Durant right now if he wants it. Nike's deal is reportedly in the $30M range. Durant, who has known members of the Nike staff since he was in 8th grade, feels loyal to them and wants to take the $30M deal. Goodwin and Durant's mom want him to take the $40M adidas deal. Goodwin obviously wants to get paid. Durant's mom probably would like her son to have a few million dollars more in his pocket.
As long as we're talking about Kevin Durant, I did see him play yesterday. He hit a long jumper seconds into the game against the Knicks, and the crowd got all jazzed up. Ooh, wow, if he has two points every few seconds all night long, this could be a record-setting night. And then he missed 15 of his next 18 shots. To be honest, though, he didn't look terrible. I was actually impressed at how he did not hesitate to join the fray under the rim several times. He just needs to get used to his new teammates and NBA defense. You can kind of see that hitting those weights might really help.
And let it be noted that these guys play hard in summer league. While the players may not be as big or as talented as a real NBA game, they are certainly super motivated.