SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard will likely be pondering a supermax contract extension over the summer, but off the court, talks between he and Jordan Brand on a new shoe deal have stalled, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.
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.
Leonard has finished second and third in voting for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award over the last two seasons, but he's played in just a handful of games this season because of injury.
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.
It's unclear whether Leonard intends to leave Jordan Brand when his contract expires on Oct. 1, but a source close to the situation said the shoe company owns the right to match any competing offers. Once the brand's exclusive negotiating window closes in July, Leonard and his representatives can start fielding potential new offers from other companies. Pitches are typically held in late August and early September, as players historically look to resolve shoe deals before the start of training camp in late September. Jordan Brand would have 10 business days to match any competing offer sheet signed by the forward.
There are no current talks between Jordan Brand and Leonard's representatives, sources said.
No current Jordan Brand athlete in the NBA receives more than $10 million per season in their shoe endorsement deal. The Nike Inc. subsidiary often pays less on shoe deals than its competitors, with players excited to partner with the legacy brand. Russell Westbrook's recently signed 10-year extension with Jordan Brand through the 2025-26 season will be the most lucrative total endorsement deal for a Jordan athlete to date, according to ESPN's research.
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.
In addition to the namesake sneaker line, the brand will also then commit additional marketing dollars for campaigns and activations promoting the player. In Leonard's case, he has been used sparingly in Jordan's global marketing efforts, appearing more recently in a fall campaign for the brand's "Be Like Mike" capsule collection with Gatorade.
Nike has launched signature shoes for more than 21 NBA stars in its history, while Jordan Brand has been far more selective. Only Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Westbrook have received a Jordan signature shoe to date.
Cleveland's LeBron James plays under the most lucrative shoe contract of any current athlete, earning more than $20 million per year from Nike on his "lifetime" endorsement deal.
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant receives in the neighborhood of more than $20 million annually from Nike as well, through a combination of the annual base salary of his shoe deal, sales royalties, and several incentive bonuses. Stephen Curry's Under Armour deal (more than $17 million annually), and James Harden's contract with Adidas (more than $15 million) make up the next tier of earners.
The quiet and reserved Leonard has played in only nine games for the Spurs this season as he recovers from right quadriceps tendinopathy.
The forward recently returned to San Antonio to resume workouts at the team's training facility, after consulting with doctors in New York for three weeks.
Leonard's timetable for return remains uncertain, as it's based on his comfort level with managing the injury.
"He's doing what he's supposed to do. He's working hard at it," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said last week. "He wants to be back. When and if he feels like he's ready to go, he'll be there."
Leonard is eligible for a five year, $219 million supermax extension this summer. Leonard signed a maximum five-year contract worth $90 million in July of 2015 to remain with the Spurs, and there's still one more season left on his deal after the current campaign with a player option for 2019-20 worth $21.3 million.
ESPN's Nick DePaula contributed to this report.