Since winning the 2014 NBA Finals MVP over the LeBron James-led Heat, Kawhi Leonard has emerged into a bonafide star. The 27-year old Raptors forward is highly sought after in trade talks, and went viral after his buzzer-beating, fadeaway jumper from the corner to oust the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
This past season, the All-Star averaged 26.6 points on 49.6 percent shooting overall (37 percent from behind the arc). He adds 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game and is considered one of the premier man-to-man defenders in the league.
This impressive production and acclaim means a hefty net worth. According to the Daily Mail, he is worth $25 million. Let’s look at the contributing factors.
1. He is in the Middle of a 5-year, $94.3 Million Contract
He has at least 1 more year on a 5-year, $94.3 million contract he originally signed with San Antonio. This season for the Raptors, he earned $20.1 million in annual salary with a $3 million trade kicker. He’s set for at least $21 million next year, depending on if he gets another kicker in a trade this summer.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, he could possibly sign a 5-year, $190 million deal with Toronto next season.
Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is taking a significant risk with the trade. Ujiri is making the deal with a determination that he can convince Leonard to re-sign with the Raptors next summer in free agency, sources said. Toronto would be able to offer Leonard a five-year, $190 million contract next summer. If Leonard left the Raptors, he could sign a four-year, $141 million deal with a team with the available salary-cap space.
Right now, his annual salary equates to $18.8 million a year. With a max deal if he re-ups with the Raptors, that increases to $38 million a season not including incentives.
2. Despite the Hefty Salary, Leonard is Known to Live Modestly
After inking the nearly $100 million deal in 2015 with the Spurs, you would expect Leonard to shell out the cash for various things. However, Financial Juneteenth discussed his humble lifestyle in a March 2016 article.
The Root notes that he “spends his summers in a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego…[and] drives a rehabbed ’97 Chevy Tahoe, nicknamed Gas Guzzler.” Why? He told SI, “It runs, and it’s paid off.”
While other stars are buying mansions, collecting luxury cars, and dropping “Benjamins” at the casino while bathing in Cristal, Leonard enjoys his modest lifestyle and prefers his unlimited supply of wings from his Wingstop sponsor…and he isn’t too proud to use his free coupons even if he is pulling in over $20 million a year.
He lived in the La Jolla Colony apartment complex in late October 2015 according to Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune. A 2-bedroom apartment at the complex currently costs $2,320 a month per Zillow.
He decided to spend big this past January, as he purchased a San Diego County home for $13.3 million. Per Neal Leitereg of the Union-Tribune:
Set on a lot of more than five acres, the Tuscan-style estate has been extensively renovated and updated for modern living.
Amenities include a workout facility with a dry bar, a home theater, a gourmet kitchen and two offices. A steel-framed wall of glass looks into a temperature-controlled wine vault in the tasting and bar room.
3. Leonard Signed a “Landmark” Deal with the New Balance Shoe Brand
Leonard signed a multi-year deal with the New Balance shoe brand this past November. Per a report from SportsPro, the deal is estimated to be worth $5 million a year. ABC News expanded on the potential incentives:
The per-year figure would place Leonard among the top-15 annual shoe deal earners in the NBA. In all shoe deals, there are a variety of additional incentives for individual awards like All-Star, All-NBA team and MVP designations, as well as team success. Each stage of the playoffs beyond the second round triggers additional bonus money.
Based on that information, the 27-year old may be expecting bonuses for making the All-Star game and conference finals this season. He also is in contention to make the All-NBA first team for the 3rd time.
Leonard also turned down a 4-year deal with Nike for a total of $22 million. The contract with New Balance has greatly benefited the shoe brand, as a Fortune report stated Leonard’s 2-Way Playoff pack sneaker sold out (at $140 a pop) after his buzzer-beater.
4. His New Balance Commercials Have Been Praised for Their Creativity
Leonard was part of an ad campaign this past February to help with the New Balance release of the signature shoe OMNIS. He doesn’t say a word, as the commercial doesn’t force the characteristically media-averse forward to be someone he’s not.
This strategy was praised by Ishveen Anand, founder and CEO of OpenSponsorship. He talked to Forbes shortly after the ad hit the internet.
“I loved it,” Anand said. “A big thing that we really, really preach is authenticity and how impactful that is today. He doesn’t even have Instagram so clearly you realize he’s a very closed character. By tapping into his quiet persona and the fact he doesn’t want to be this loud guy, I thought was brilliant.”
Charles Curtis of For The Win was another who praised the campaign.
It’s great, right? It’s a good way to change the conversation around the memes that popped up when Leonard signed with the shoe brand. It reminded me of Barkley’s famous “I am not a role model” ad Nike put together in the 1990s.
As Forbes pointed out, media personalities such as ESPN’s Jalen Rose poked fun at Leonard afterward.
5. His Partner Kishele Shipley is a Homemaker who Takes Care of Their Children
While his partner Kishele Shipley doesn’t add income, she has the important task of maintaining the household and raising their children: a 2-year old daughter named Kaliyah and a newborn son. There’s a Reddit rumor that the son is named after Kawhi’s father Mark.
Our own Effie Orfanides wrote this past January that Kishele worked in Human Resources in San Diego for a few years before she moved with Kawhi to San Antonio. She graduated with a degree from San Diego State in Public Administration.
San Diego State University’s Public Administration degree is a four-year program. Those who graduate are considered qualified to work as urban redevelopment planners, housing policy analysts, and labor relations specialists, to name a few.
It’s clear that Kishele is more than capable of working, but with Kawhi’s hefty paycheck, the family has the luxury of a full-time parent that stays at home.