Leonard’s contract with the Jordan brand expires in October and the shoe company is said to have informed the All-Star forward they will be parting ways upon expiration.
That decision by the company was on the premise of Leonard turning down a four-year $22 million contract by the company in March and talks between both parties have since broken down.
After making a strong 4 year / $22 Million extension offer to Kawhi Leonard earlier this year that was turned down, Jordan Brand plans to let Leonard walk this fall once his deal expires in October, according to industry sources.
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) July 24, 2018
Leonard currently earns less than $500,000 per year from the Jordan brand and was hoping a new deal would attract a significantly higher figure to reflect his accomplishments in recent years. Leonard is a two-time All-Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, three-time All-Defensive first-team selection, and was named Most Valuable Player for the 2014 NBA Finals. Athletes like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, both sponsored by Nike, earn more than $20 million annually, while James Harden earns $15 million annually from Adidas.
The offer made in March would have earned Leonard $5.5 million per year, putting him on the same pedestal with Paul George, who earned the same figure from Nike the previous year. Only 10 athletes, current or retired, earn more than $20 million a year: Michael Jordan – $110 million, LeBron James – $32 million, Kevin Durant – $25 million, and Kobe Bryant – $16 million, according to Kurt Badenhausen of FORBES.
Besides Leonard’s disappointment at Jordan not offering a contract reflecting his superstar’s status, the shoe company is also said to have declined the 6’8 forward’s request to grant him a signature shoe. This is despite the fact that the company gave athletes like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Russell Westbrook signature shoe deals.
While Leonard’s request for an upward review and a signature line could be justified based on his achievements, the Jordan brand possibly considered the marketing value accruable from Leonard’s persona as incommensurate for the reason that the former San Antonio Spurs player is largely taciturn and perceived to be anti-social. These traits were probably interpreted in monetary terms as incapable of stimulating financial gain for the company at the cost he was expecting the brand to invest in a signature line and higher annual pay.
Leonard has not responded to the decision by Jordan brand and it is expected that another shoe company will pick him up in free agency.