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Durant has been with Nike since coming into the league. He wanted to be a part of their team so badly coming out of college that he actually took less than market value to sign with them, but Under Armour has given him an offer that is nearly impossible to refuse. Nothing is official yet, but UA is having one of their premiere events, Elite 24, late in August in Brooklyn, coincidentally during the same time that Durant and Team USA are rolling through for a series of exhibition games. That could be an ideal time to announce the switch, assuming Nike doesn’t find a way to change Durant’s mind during the 11th hour. That possibility is looking slim, though, especially after Durant cancelled a scheduled meeting with them earlier this week.
Monster offers like this are not going to become common place. This is a unique situation in which an emerging company with the bank roll to make a splash like this has the opportunity to pluck away one of the most marketable stars the NBA has ever seen. They’re throwing everything they have at Durant simply because he is worth it to them. He helps legitimize them and push them towards being a premiere brand in the basketball world, much like they are in football. They’ve made some waves, already having Golden State Warriors All-Star guard Stephen Curry, and this would give them one of the faces of the NBA during the peak of his stardom.
UA has Maryland roots, like Durant, and the talk about him leaving the Thunder for the Wizards in 2016 will only grow if he makes this move. However, they want Durant no matter where he plays. It may be ideal for them if he ends up in Washington, but by no means is it something they’re trying to influence him into doing two years before he can even make the move.
This is another example of how the Cavaliers are now a destination in free agency. The Pacers, soon to be equipped with a $5.3 million disabled players exception, can offer him far more, but the Cavaliers offer something they don’t: a chance to compete for a championship. They can only offer the veteran’s minimum, though.
The Cavaliers are widely expected to acquire Kevin Love at the end of the month. They’re clearly in win-now mode with LeBron James on board. The addition of Marion would help bolster their defense and second unit. He would also be another valuable veteran presence for a team that is still very young and inexperienced overall.
Knicks, Kings complete a minor swap
The motivations for the Kings are primarily monetary in this deal as they are expected to waive Jeremy Tyler and potentially use the stretch provision on Ellington’s contract in order to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold.
Meanwhile, the Knicks like what they saw from Acy during the summer league and feel like his energy and defensive mindset fits better with next year’s team than the Tyler. He could be waived to help save money, though, as his contract is non-guaranteed. Outlaw is also a defensive upgrade over Ellington and could see time as Carmelo Anthony’s backup.
The Knicks are one of the most active teams on the market right now because of all their expiring contracts. They have hopes of signing a top-tier free agent next offseason, but could scrap that plan if a difference maker becomes obtainable.
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