Under Armour offer to Durant reportedly worth up to $285M

TweetAthletic apparel company Under Armour has made NBA MVP Kevin Durant quite a substantial endorsement offer, per a report from ESPN’s Darren Rovell. Durant’s representation Roc Nation Sports informed Nike on Wednesday that he has a deal on the table with Under Armour worth between $265 million and $285 million over 10 years, sources told ESPN.com. The deal includes Under Armour stock and other incentives, such a community center built in his mother’s name, whose exact worth will not be known for some time. Per the report, Durant’s previous signature line with Nike brought in $175 million this past season. Nike has the contractual right to match Under Armour’s deal, should they choose. Under Armour appears to be committed to becoming a major player in athletic apparel and shoe game. UA also signed Golden State Warriors rising star Stephen Curry in 2013, and landing the reigning MVP would be huge for the growing brand. -ALR

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Kevin Durant Reportedly Offered Monster Deal from Under Armour

Under Armour is reportedly seeking to outbid Nike in the race to secure Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant to a massive endorsement deal.   

According to ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell, Durant’s agency, Roc Nation Sports, told Nike of Under Armour’s offer:

Kevin Durant’s representation, Roc Nation Sports, informed Nike on Wednesday that he has a deal on the table with Under Armour worth between $265 million and $285 million over 10 years, sources told ESPN.com. 

The deal includes Under Armour stock and other incentives such a community center built in his mother’s name whose exact worth will not be known for some time. [...]

Nike’s last offer, sources said, would have given Durant a base and a minimum royalty guarantee that would equal no less than $20 million a year.

Rovell provided more perspective and background details on Twitter, and also compared Durant’s situation with that of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James:

The following quote from Durant, per SLAM Magazine, outlines a primary reason why he would be so coveted and deserving of such an opportunity to make big bucks away from the basketball court:

Durant has won the scoring title four times already in just seven NBA seasons, and took home his maiden NBA MVP award in 2013-14 after averaging a career-best 32 points and 5.5 assists to go with 7.4 rebounds per contest.

Along with fellow young All-Star Russell Westbrook, Durant has helped Oklahoma City make a rather seamless transition from Seattle, turning the franchise into a perennial contender. Triangle Offense made a pertinent comparison in that context to the endorsement offer Durant reportedly has:

All that’s missing for Durant is a championship, which could come with the Thunder or elsewhere. With just two years left on his contract, there’s a chance Durant takes his talents elsewhere for the best shot at a Larry O’Brien Trophy.

No matter what he decides on for the next phase of his career, though, his impending endorsement deal will lock Durant in as he approaches his prime. Just 25 years old at this time, Durant’s best days are likely ahead of him as a player. Now he is taking his endorsement ceiling to new heights.

Fortune magazine combines with Sports Illustrated to compile an annual list of the highest-earning professional athletes, and Durant was 13th in this year’s edition.

But with nearly $19 million in salary coming this season, per Spotrac.com, and the bidding battle between Nike and Under Armour, Durant stands to improve his stature among the highest earners in sports.

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Derrick Rose reportedly experiencing knee soreness

TweetDerrick Rose has shown flashes of his old self in two exhibition games for Team USA this summer, but according to reports the Chicago Bulls PG has been absent from the practice floor lately due to soreness in his surgically repaired knees. A source familiar with Rose’s condition told ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell that Rose has been bothered by knee soreness since his return to the floor Saturday night in an exhibition victory over Brazil in Chicago and requested the extra time to recover. But Team USA officials, to this point, have downplayed concerns about Rose’s status. “We’re gonna give him a couple days off because he’s been going so hard,” Krzyzewski said during the interview, which he gave en route to Team USA’s all-day trip Monday to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Rose tore his left ACL back in 2012, causing him to miss the entire following season. Rose then tore the meniscus in his right knee 10 games into the 2013-2014 season. Considering that Rose has only played a

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NBA X-Mas Day schedule reportedly includes five games

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the 2014-2015 NBA schedule will include five interesting matchups on Christmas Day. We already had a good idea what teams were going to be suiting up on that day, but the matchups are apparently now etched in stone. Five Christmas Day games: Washington at New York; OKC at San Antonio. Cleveland at Miami; L.A. Lakers at Chicago; G-State at L.A. Clippers. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 13, 2014 Obviously, the game that everyone is going to be talking about is LeBron James’ return to Miami as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It will likely be his first time back in South Beach for a regular season game since he departed for his hometown Cavaliers earlier this offseason. It will be interesting to see how the fans in Miami react to James visiting as a member of an opposing team. Among other games, the Golden State Warriors will travel to Southern California to take on their in-state rival Los Angeles Clippers. If you reme…

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Thad Young Reportedly Gets Unenviable Task of Replacing Kevin Love in Minnesota

Thaddeus Young has reportedly found himself a new home with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who, in turn, expect him to fill the unfillable shoes Kevin Love leaves behind.

Talk about unenviable pressure. 

Mark Perner of the Philadelphia Daily News brings word that the Philadelphia 76ers are involved in the trade that Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski says will land Love with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sixers will apparently send Young to the Timberwolves—who instantly become the Timberpups without Love—and receive Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick from 2013. 

Tom Moore of Calkins Media preaches caution on the circumstances of said transaction:

Pity the fate of Young here if this deal, or a separate one, goes through. Not because Minnesota is a post-apocalyptic slough ruled concurrently by Brock Lesnar and Prince. It isn’t.  

Don’t cry for him because Love’s (likely) departure removes the Wolves from playoff contention, ensuring their decade-long playoff drought lives on while ruining their future. The Timberwolves, all things considered, are going to be fun to watch. Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and Wiggins make for must-watch transition finishes. 

Ache for Young because the Timberwolves see him as someone he’s not. They view him as a “replacement” for Love, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein; they consider him a solution to the immediately unsolvable. 

They’re making him the followup act for an on-court performance he cannot rival. Because Young isn’t Love. Young is Young, and Love is Love. Now Young must find that balance between being himself and morphing into someone who can begin to replace what Love does.


What Young Does

There’s nothing to worry about on the defensive end.

At 6’8″, Young can defend the 3 and 4 positions. Opposing forwards averaged a combined player efficiency rating of 25.3 against him last season, according to 82games.com, but Philly’s system was a mess. The Sixers ranked first in possessions used per 48 minutes, which creates more opportunities for opposing clubs, and their team defense was utter chaos, easily exploited and incinerated by screens and any kind of dribble penetration.

Calling their defensive sets chaotic actually isn’t fair…to us, because it implies that more than one or two trend-busting anomalies played defense, which just isn’t true. 

Within the right system, on a team that isn’t blatantly trying to lose, Young can defend just as well, if not better than Love. He’s already a better rim protector, out-blocking Love 196-173 since the bearded hotshot entered the league in 2008. 

Bigger bulks of Young’s total win shares typically come on the defensive end, too. More than 65 percent of his win shares came on the defensive side last year, compared to Love’s 25.9 percent.

Also, this:

The only exception is 2012-13, when Love played in a whopping 18 games and amassed 1.1 total win shares. Put an asterisk on that season and embrace the movement: Young is going to be a defensive upgrade over Love.

Nothing is lost in the athleticism department, either.

Love is not unathletic. He’s the victim of stereotypical assumptions, hunches and beliefs. He runs the floor pretty well for someone his size, and his outlet passes are precise enough that he would start under center for the Minnesota Vikings.

But Young is an athletic freak. He can be a beast in transition when he doesn’t over-dribble; he even added the fast-break three to his repertoire last season, connecting on 39.1 percent of his bombs in transition, according to Synergy Sports (subscription required).

When he puts the ball on the floor and sees an opening, he’s like a slender freight train. Good luck stopping him. That amalgam of explosion, agility and nimbleness is rare. 

All of which makes Young a solid addition for the re-rebuilding Timberwolves.

Except for the fact that, you know, Young still isn’t Love.


What Young Doesn’t Do

Absence of playoff berths aside, Love spoiled the Timberwolves for a half-decade or so with his evolving offensive game.

Stretch forwards aren’t oddities anymore, but players like Love are. He’s a rebounding machine who can score on or off the ball while serving as a secondary playmaker. 

Exactly zero of those attributes apply to Young. He’s not the playmaker Love is, though he has improved. He’s not the rebounder Love is, though he does enough of it. 

Most importantly, he’s not the scorer Love is. Not even close. 

Dropping 17.9 points a game is nothing to scoff at, but Young’s 2013-14 numbers came on the tanktastic Sixers and in ways that aren’t conducive to the Timberwolves offense. 

Minny doesn’t need another ball-brandishing scorer. It has the rock-wielding Rubio and Nikola Pekovic already, and Wiggins should be on the way. What it needs is a potent offensive option who doesn’t need the ball to score.

That is not Young.

Although 17.5 percent of his field-goal attempts came as a standstill shooter, he connected on 33.2 percent of them, per Synergy. Worse, he drilled only 28.7 percent of his spot-up threes. Love, meanwhile, nailed a lethal 37.9 percent of his standalone three-pointers.

Spending three seasons under Doug Collins’ care didn’t help Young. Almost as soon as he began integrating the three-point shot into his arsenal, Collins took it away. Young attempted 302 treys through his second and third seasons, only to jack up a grand total of 34 over the next three, making only eight. 

Last year saw Young become a more willing chucker. And it wasn’t pretty. He attempted a career-high 290 long-range balls but made only 90 (30.8 percent). 

Love sank 190 three-pointers last year alone; Young has put in 208 for his career, posting an unimpressive 32.1 percent conversion rate in the process—doubly troubling when you consider he’s shooting 50 percent from the floor overall. 

Seven years deep into his career, the hope for change is minimal. Players almost always are who they are at this point. Substantial changes are scarce. But Steve McPherson of A Wolf Among Wolves maintains hope that Young can develop into that stretch 4 Minnesota needs: 

I wrote about him for the New York Times and HoopChalk prior to last season, essentially lauding his evolution into a true smallball power forward and noting that if he could add the 3-pointer back into his game — he shot ~35% in his second and third seasons — he could become even better. (Also worth noting that he was most successful from 3-point range on the left wing — Love’s favorite spot.)

This past season he did re-introduce the 3-pointer, but it didn’t go super well. He only shot 31% from 3-point range, but I think it’s worth remembering that he more or less hadn’t taken a 3-point shot in a game for three years (34 3PA in those three years combined) and that he was on an atrocious Sixers team where the offense wasn’t designed to get him 3-point looks. 

Cause for optimism is clobbered by one unassailable fact: Young’s range is light-years behind Love’s. 

Young’s overall efficiency is buoyed by his rim-oriented attack. More than 48 percent of his total shot attempts came at the iron last season, yet that spot also accounted for roughly 62.9 percent of his total makes, according to NBA.com.

When you factor in all Love did for Minnesota, and his across-the-board versatility, replacing him is nigh impossible.

Supplanting him with Young—the Young of today—is impossible.


Replacing the Irreplaceable 

To wit: Young isn’t a terrible fit in Minnesota. In certain areas, he’s good for the team.

The Timberwolves played at the fourth-fastest pace last season, and they ranked seventh in points scored per transition possession, according to Synergy. Almost 22 percent of Young’s made baskets came within fast breaks. 

They run, he runs.

They need defense, he provides defense.

They need talent, he, like Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley posits, is talent: 

The Timberwolves’ present and future depends on getting this right. And that means not only maximizing Love’s value on the trade market but also identifying someone to fill the spot he’ll leave behind.

Young can be that player. He can be the key to basketball’s next summer blockbuster.

Can he be that player right away? No, and there’s the problem.

Love is too valuable to replace. He ranked third in total wins created (14.3) last season, trailing only LeBron James (15.9) and Kevin Durant (19.2), despite playing for a lottery-dweller. He became the first player in NBA history to maintain benchmarks of 26 points, 12 rebounds and four assists per game while also burying at least one three-pointer. 

Love is a superstar. Love is historical.

Thad isn’t.

Can his largely ball-dominant stylings fit beside Rubio? Pek? Wiggins? Will he noticeably change his game seven years into his career?

Does he even have a puncher’s chance of beginning to succeed Love?  

“I have not been traded,” Young told CSN Philly’s Dei Lynam.

Not yet he hasn’t, but the rumor mill says he will be. If and when he is, Young will find himself in a new city, on a new team, trying to fill the gaping hole left by one of the league’s 10 best talents.

Trying to replace what neither he nor anyone else can.


*Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and NBA.com unless otherwise cited. 

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Lakers reportedly offer Carmelo Anthony huge deal

The Los Angeles Lakers met with New York Knicks free agent forward Carmelo Anthony for nearly three hours on Thursday and apparently offered him a max contract during that meeting. Reports now claim that the Lakers offered the 30-year-old a four-year, $97 million deal. While details are still emerging about what the team’s plans are to build around Anthony and star guard Kobe Bryant, it’s clear the Lakers are serious about trying to land the Syracuse product. Bryant is scheduled to meet with Anthony Thursday night and the two have long been close friends. Whether Kobe can sway Melo to come to Los Angeles is completely unknown at this point. Reports earlier on Thursday suggested that Anthony was actually interested in returning to the Knicks and bringing Lakers free agent big man Pau Gasol with him. While the actual logistics of making that happen could be difficult, Gasol does have ties to the Knicks as his former head coach (Phil Jackson), point guard (Derek Fisher) and assistant …

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More ‘Melo’-drama: Knicks reportedly traveling to L.A. to meet with Carmelo Anthony

Perhaps to ensure that the sweet free agency nothings blown into Carmelo Anthony’s ear by Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Knicks reportedly will travel cross-country to meet with its former player in a bid to convince him that the West is not necessarily the best. Having already met with the […] The post More ‘Melo’-drama: Knicks reportedly traveling to L.A. to meet with Carmelo Anthony appeared first on Sportress of Blogitude.

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Durant, Westbrook reportedly pitching OKC to Pau Gasol

The NBA’s free agency period kicked off on Tuesday (July 1st) and the bidding wars have begun. We’ve watched as guy like Ben Gordon and Kyle Lowry signed deals very quickly. Some of the larger names on the market, such as Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, have been linked to various teams, so free agents haven’t been linked to anyone. One of the bigger names on the market is that of former NBA champion, Pau Gasol. The 33-year old Gasol could be on his last tank of gas, and is likely looking to land on a contender. Reports are saying that the Oklahoma City Thunder have emerged as the frontrunner to land Gasol, and it’s being reported that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have made a direct pitch to the Spaniard. ESPN has learned that Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook made a come-to-OKC pitch directly to Pau Gasol today in Los Angeles — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 3, 2014   League source tells http://t.co/qaKiSKJzB6 that Thunder GM Sam Presti made OKC interest known in a phone c

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Pistons teammate reportedly wants Josh Smith out of Detroit

credit: AP Before last season, the Detroit Pistons signed Josh Smith to a big deal. With Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond already on the roster, the Pistons failed to make a three big lineup work. Just a year into his contract, there have already been talks regarding whether or not Smith will be traded. He doesn’t seem to be much of a fit, and new head coach Stan Van Gundy likely won’t want to play Smith at the three. In Orlando, SVG was all about creating space around Dwight Howard; good luck doing that with Andre Drummond while Greg Monroe and Josh Smith are on the floor. Monroe is a restricted free agent, and it looks like he may be using his leverage to send Smith packing. Via Grantland: Reading between the lines, a sign-and-trade involving Thomas and Josh Smith may be in the works, and multiple sources say Monroe’s camp has made it known Monroe will sign the one-year qualifying offer if Smith remains on the roster. Monroe’s camp denies that, and that kind of empty threat is not atypical from top re

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Celtics Reportedly Called About Two Big Free Agents

credit: Getty Images
The Boston Celtics are coming off of a rough season in which they struggled through a rebuild. Rookie coach Brad Stevens was learning the ropes, and the team’s star, Rajon Rondo, was trying to find his way back from injury.
While they’re still a way away from contending again, it looks like Danny Ainge is already trying to make some big moves. As free agency started at midnight, Ainge reportedly made 30 calls, including calls to Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons.
Celtics contacted approximately 30 players last night, according to source. Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons are on the list.
— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) July 1, 2014
Hayward isn’t a surprise, as he and Stevens have ties from Butler. However, seeing Chandler Parsons on that list is certainly a shock, as his services will be in high demand from much better teams.
Neither will be cheap, and there’s a good chance that Ainge is simply doing his due diligence. He is known to call around a lot and explore every opportunity.

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