Kevin Durant might be on the verge of signing a historic shoe deal with sportswear apparel company Under Armour, based in Baltimore, for a reported $250 million. Accepting such a contract, which is worth more than the value of any NBA player's contract, could affect the future of his NBA career.
The 25-year-old did not take part in the free agent frenzy of the 2014 offseason that culminated with LeBron James' return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Carmelo Anthony's re-signing with the New York Knicks. Throughout the summer, there was increased media speculation about the teams interested in James and Anthony while Durant remained comfortably in Oklahoma City.
Durant currently has two years left on his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which will pay him over $39 million. In the summer of 2016, all eyes may be on the current Most Valuable Player and his next contract decision, and there has already been talk about Durant’s future. The 6'10 forward has spent his entire career with the Thunder organization, quietly signing a five-year extension in 2010 with no rumors or suggestions that he considered playing elsewhere.
Seven years into his NBA career, Durant has yet to win a championship, even though he’s cemented himself as the No. 2 player in basketball, behind James. If the All-Star goes two more years without a ring, he could feel pressure to sign with another team.
Signing the most lucrative shoe deal in the league could increase the chance of Durant accepting less money to play for another team. The current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2017, which is one year before Durant's contract expires. Under the CBA, the Thunder can offer Durant a five-year contract, compared to a four-year deal from other teams that have the necessary salary-cap space.
The Washington Wizards might be the most likely destination for Durant, if he leaves Oklahoma City. Durant was born and raised in the Washington area and could look to play for his hometown team. NBA players have shown how important bringing championships to their hometown is to them. This offseason James took less money to return to Cleveland. Anthony stayed in his hometown of New York while spurning an opportunity to play for the talent-rich Chicago Bulls.
The Thunder have been one of the best teams in the NBA over the last few years, but they haven’t won a title. While it's a long look ahead, the Wizards have a bright future with John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt. Adding Durant in two years could make them the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
Discussing Durant’s future might be a little premature, considering he’ll likely compete for a title with Oklahoma City over the next two years and has yet to sign any shoe deal. He’s also proven to be loyal to the Thunder and has never experienced any tension with the club. Re-signing with the Thunder would be a highly plausible scenario.
Until Durant signs a new contract, though, speculation of another NBA superstar switching teams may continue.