Toronto Raptors swingman, Kawhi Leonard became the biggest New Balance basketball athlete since James Worthy launched a signature shoe in the 1980s.
It was announced yesterday that Leonard left Nike’s Jordan brand and signed with the Massachussets-based New Balance sneaker brand.
Per ESPN’s Michael C. Wright and Ramona Shelburne, Leonard and Jordan Brand were “close” to completing a four-year deal worth more than $20 million in a deal reportedly similar to Jordan Brand’s current contract with Detroit Pistons All-Star Blake Griffin.
Per SB Nation: Contract negotiations reportedly broke down at the last minute after Leonard’s reps felt Jordan’s offer wasn’t representative of his standing as one of the top players in the NBA.
Jordan Brand does not pay any of its athletes more than $10 million per year, but it recently signed Russell Westbrook to a 10-year deal that was reported as the most lucrative shoe deal in Jordan Brand history. Nike pays LeBron James more than $20 million annually as part of his lifetime contract. Kevin Durant also makes around $20 million in sneaker money from Nike, while Stephen Curry and James Harden each make more than $15 million from Under Armour and Adidas respectively.
According to ESPN’s According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, New Balance offered “significantly more” than $5 million per season, an amount that would among the top 15 shoe endorsement deal earners in the league.
It is unclear if he will have a signature shoe, but he will be the highest-profile player New Balance has on its roster.