Things have not been all rainbows and lollipops for Kawhi Leonard lately.
He has only appeared in nine games this season with a quad and shoulder injury and seems to currently be caught up in a bizarre and confusing situation surrounding his health. He has been cleared by the Spurs for weeks but hasn’t returned to the court or full on practice as far as we know, opting instead to seek out a second opinion on his injury. Reports seems to oscillate weekly between him returning soon or being done for the season.
It appears that bad juju has moved over to his extension with his endorsement deal with Jordan as well.
“Jordan Brand, which is a division of Nike, and Leonard’s representatives came “very close” to completion on a new four-year extension worth more than $20 million. But discussions broke down abruptly because representatives for Leonard didn’t feel that the new deal reflected the forward’s accomplishments and standing within the league, sources said.
A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, two-time All-NBA first team selection and Finals MVP, Leonard earns less than $500,000 per year in his current endorsement contract with Jordan Brand, which is worth significantly less than the deal currently on the table from the shoe company.
Jordan’s current extension offer does not include a Leonard signature shoe, which would escalate the value of the deal dramatically. Signature deals typically include a 5 percent royalty on all logo footwear and apparel sold, allowing for a handful of the game’s biggest stars to earn well north of eight figures annually from brands.”
There are a few things that come to mind here. Considering the fact that Leonard may be one of the three best players in the NBA and assuredly a top 10 player in a league full of marketable stars and big time endorsements, the fact that he receives $500,000 per year with his current deal feels way too low.
On the other hand, Leonard’s buying into the Spurs culture and mentality of staying quiet and focused has given the perception to fans, media and likely advertisers that Leonard is quiet, robotic, uninteresting and likely unmarketable as a star like many of his contemporaries.
I mean to the average 10-year-old basketball fan not in San Antonio, are they trying to emulate Leonard in the school yard and would they beg their parents to have a signature shoe of his? It feels like they more than likely don’t and wouldn’t.
This is utter conjecture, but I wonder if part of Leonard’s current possible estrangement from the Spurs organization is related to this?
Any way you slice it, this has been a difficult year for Leonard and it will be interesting to see how it affects his career moving forward.