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Kevin Durant offered over $265 million deal by Under Armour

Kevin Durant where amazing happens

Under Armour has just given a huge wake-up call to Nike.

The Maryland-based sports equipment and apparel company has offered Kevin Durant a 10-year deal worth between $265-285 million, according to an ESPN report. The deal includes stock offers and other incentives for Durant.

Nike has the option to match the offer from Under Armour. If they choose to do so, Durant would be contractually obligated to stay with them.

Durant visited the UA headquarters last week and ended up staying there the entire day despite only planning to remain for a few hours. ESPN described UA’s pitch to Durant as impressive. They say he even worked out in their basketball shoes.

Only a tiny portion of UA’s annual revenue comes from basketball-related products, so this would be a huge way for them to grow in the market. They already made a big move last year by signing Steph Curry away from Nike and are looking to steal another one of the swoosh’s top athletes.

A big part of their sales pitch will be tying together theirs and Durant’s DC/Maryland-area roots. UA’s headquarters are less than 40 miles from where Durant grew up.

Durant wanted to sign with Nike so badly coming out of college that he turned down an offer from adidas for 33 percent more money — $20 million in all. Will he be as generous this time around? We will soon find out, but one thing is for certain — his new representation at Roc Nation Sports has him shopping for the best deal.

Jay-Z to blame for Kevin Durant quitting Team USA?

Kevin Durant Jay-Z

Kevin Durant pulled out of Team USA two weeks ago much to the shock of USA Basketball coaches, players and executives. Durant cited mental and physical fatigue as his reason for quitting the team during the middle of training camp, only weeks away from the start of the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

“After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint,” Durant said in a statement. “I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season.”

Though many took Durant for his word — and he certainly has earned the benefit of the doubt — there has been a lot of skepticism about KD’s reason for quitting the team.

USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo said Durant pulled out because of contractual obligations, but he later issued one of those “clarifications.”

We speculated that Durant pulled out because he’s concerned with his next big shoe/apparel endorsement contract. It sounds like that is the case.

In a long, rambling, and at times incoherent opinion piece, Chris Sheridan says Jay-Z, who is the man behind Durant’s new agency Roc Nation Sports, is to blame for KD withdrawing from the team.

Though Sheridan never explicitly states what Jay-Z did, he says Durant’s agent is behind the surprising decision.

And what I have discovered in talking to members of the U.S. federation over the past two days is this: Durant and his agency, Roc Nation, are more interested in cashing in on his MVP award and his expiring Nike deal than they are in having Durant keep his word to the people who were with him in 2010 in Turkey at the World Championship and in 2012 in London at the Olympics.

Sheridan points out that since signing with Jay-Z, Durant has ended many of his previous business relationships. He ended his endorsement deal with Gatorade in favor of Sparkling Ice. He is now shopping around shoe/apparel companies even though he’s been with Nike since entering the NBA.

The implication is that Durant/Jay-Z/Roc Nation are more concerned with setting up his business deals than having him participate with Team USA.

For instance, Durant spent the day at Under Armour’s headquarters on Wednesday. UA is a Maryland-based company and reportedly was preparing a monster offer for the reigning NBA MVP. Sheridan also says adidas is preparing a big offer for Durant and that the Thunder forward re-signing with Nike is still a possibility.

Sheridan mentions that Durant may not have wanted to spend several weeks around Nike people (Nike sponsors USA Basketball) while he is shopping for a new deal.

Overall, it comes across as though Sheridan has more inside information on the subject than he can share, but he feels strongly enough to write a very opinionated piece on the matter.

The bottom line is this: participation on USA Basketball is voluntary. Durant is well within his right not to play for the team. He just handled the timing of his leave very poorly.

Coach K was surprised Kevin Durant left Team USA

Kevin Durant ThunderCoach K says he was surprised Kevin Durant decided to leave Team USA last week because of physical and mental fatigue.

“Yeah I was,” Krzyzewski said after Team USA’s practice in Chicago on Thursday via ESPN Chicago. “No question. I was.”

Coach K says the team built its offense around Durant, who is the NBA’s reigning MVP and won four of the last five scoring titles.

“It’s one of those things, you don’t replace Kevin Durant,” Krzyzewski said. “You look different. And so we have today and [Friday] to look different before we play a really good team. That’s of concern for me because we were pretty far along. We had our best camp ever in Vegas since I’ve coached [Team USA]. Those guys were terrific. We had more in [game plan-wise] but we had more in to play a certain way. And then Kevin deciding not to play … it’s concerning. But hopefully we’ll be good enough on Saturday and then we use New York and Grand Canaria to get better and get better during pool play.”

Durant’s Team USA teammates were surprised by his decision to pull out late in the process. Team director Jerry Colangelo also said Durant’s decision to pull out was contractually related.

“But he found himself in a situation where he had no choice … in terms of his contractual situation,” Colangelo said.

Durant doesn’t become a free agent for two years, so I’m not sure why his contract would be an issue. Does he not want to get hurt before he finalizes an endorsement deal, perhaps with Under Armour, which is a rival sponsor to Team USA’s Nike? Or did he simply just get spooked after the Paul George injury and pull out as a result?

Probably only Durant knows the answer to that, but we do know his decision altered Team USA’s plans.

Report: Under Armour to make Kevin Durant huge offer

Kevin DurantKevin Durant will not be an NBA free agent until 2016, but he is currently in the middle of a different kind of free agency.

Durant’s contract with Nike is expiring and he is being pursued by sports apparel giants Adidas and Under Armour. Nike, of course, wants to retain him. Of the three, UA might be the company to watch here.

The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reports that Under Armour could offer Durant as much as $30 million a year.

While the number sounds outrageous — and we doubt they would offer him that much — it sure sounds like they mean business in these negotiations.

Under Armour pursuing Durant and potentially signing him could have other implications. UA is based out of Maryland, which is nearby Durant’s hometown of D.C. Ever since LeBron James decided to go home to Cleveland, there has been a lot of noise about Durant one day going to play for the Wizards. Durant even seems to be giving serious consideration to that possibility.

I would be shocked if Durant signed with Under Armour over Nike (with the implication being that UA outbid Nike by a large amount), but I doubt Isola would throw this out there if he didn’t have solid information on the matter. We’ll see what happens.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk

Kevin Durant thinking about going to Wizards?

Kevin DurantKevin Durant is a long way from home with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The reigning NBA MVP grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., where he was a kid rooting for the Washington Bullets and Wizards.

Has Durant ever considered playing for his hometown team?

After a training session with USA Basketball on Tuesday, Durant gushed about LeBron James’ decision to return to Cleveland to try to help the Cavaliers win their first championship.

“He thought about the city where he comes from, about Northeast Ohio and how he can affect so many of the kids just being there playing basketball. I love that,” Durant said. “So many guys get criticized for making the decision that’s best for them, instead of what’s best for everybody else. He’s a guy that did that. You gotta respect that. I applauded him, I texted him and told him congratulations on the decision and told him I was happy for him. As a fan of the game, it’s going to be pretty cool to see him back in Cleveland.”

While Durant said he is completely committed to the Thunder and reminded reporters that he has two years remaining on his contract, he stopped short of ruling out a return to D.C.

“Look, we going to put it out on tape,” Durant said. “It’s been talked about. Everybody’s asked me about it every time I go on Instagram or Twitter. All my friends ask me about it. So I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m naïve to the fact that people think about that stuff. But I just tell everybody that I’m here in Oklahoma City, [and] I love it here. Who knows what will happen? I never close the door on anything. But I like where I’m at right now, so I can’t answer that question.”

The major difference between LeBron and Durant is that LeBron won two championships before returning to Cleveland. If Durant still doesn’t have a ring when his contract with the Thunder is up in two years, he’ll probably sign with the team that gives him the best chance to win a title.

Kevin Durant says his favorite non-basketball athlete is Mike Trout

Mike Trout Angels

Kevin Durant held a Q&A session with some of his Twitter followers early Tuesday morning, and there were plenty of entertaining interactions. One of the more interesting facts we learned about K.D. came when he was asked who his favorite non-basketball athlete is.

Considering Durant could have said anyone in any sport, that must be pretty cool for Mike Trout. The Los Angeles Angels star is only 22 and already one of the best basketball players in the world — who happens to be three years older than him — has categorized Trout as his “favorite” player.

We also thought the way Durant avoided a question about his celebrity crush was pretty hilarious.

The Oklahoma City Thunder star is clearly very familiar with the way social media works.

Knicks reportedly think Derek Fisher could help them get Kevin Durant

Kevin DurantTeams are dreaming big about the possibility of landing free agents. You have the Lakers who reportedly are delaying their coaching search because they have aspirations of getting someone like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. You have the Miami Heat who are talking about landing ‘Melo (which actually seems like a realistic possibility). You have Phil Jackson trying to convince ‘Melo to stick with the Knicks so they can build around him.

But this may be the most laughable scenario of all.

In a story about ‘Melo’s potential free agency, ESPN’s Marc Stein throws in one amusing nugget:

The Knicks, sources say, expect to be a contender for Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant when he is projected to become a free agent in July 2016 and believe their chances will be enhanced by the presence of Fisher, one of Durant’s favorite teammates with the Thunder.

OK, maybe I shouldn’t laugh about this. The NBA will look a lot different in two years, so a lot can happen between now and then. But who among us actually believes the Knicks are going to be good and an appealing option for Durant? Maybe having Fisher will get them an extra look, but I just cannot envision Durant going to the Knicks. No way. And while we’re at it, I’d be pretty surprised if Fisher were still the Knicks’ coach after two seasons.

Chest bump to Eye on Basketball