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Kevin Durant to Under Armour rumors: Do they mean anything for his future with the Thunder?

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Kevin Durant may be close to a deal with the Maryland-based company Under Armour. Does this mean anything with regards to his 2016 free agency?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Hey all, just a quick introduction. My name is Joe Atmonavage. I attend the University of Maryland and I am happy to start contributing to one of the best sites on the Internet. As someone who hails from the same area as the great Kevin Durant, I have been following the franchise since KD was selected back in 2007. I also write words about basketball over at HoopsHabit.com. Let's get weird.

The second LeBron James announced he was heading home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, everyone switched their focus to Kevin Durant and the possibility of him returning home to the D.C. area when he hits the free agent market in 2016.

First off, two years away is a long time. Andrew Sharp of Grantland wrote an excellent piece about why we should all shut up about KD to D.C.

My gut feeling is if Durant wins a title with Thunder in the next two years, it would be tough to walk away from such a stable situation to a Wizards franchise which has had a magnitude of organizational issues over the years.

But until then, LET'S SPECULATE!

Sharp is right. In the grand schemes of things, this is silly to be such a hot topic right now, but in the dead months of the NBA it is impossible not to look at every single move and diagnose every one of Durant's quotes. It's what media, fans, and basically everyone loves to do in the era of the 24/7 news cycle.

So before we look at the latest news of why we are talking abut this again, let's take a look at other reasons why this conversation even started.

1.     The Wizards hire Durant's former high school coach David Adkins as a player development coach.

2.     Stephen A. Smith, who was ahead of the curve on James going to Miami in 2010, said he is hearing from people close to Durant if he were to leave Oklahoma City it would be to go back home to D.C.

But there are folks that I’ve spoken to that are relatively close to Kevin Durant that tell me if he were to decide to leave Oklahoma City, it would  be for the nation’s capital. That’s the kind of dude he is. That’s a place that he would consider.

3.     The Wizards sign Paul Pierce to a two year deal to help have cap flexibility in 2016.

And now the latest news is that Durant is close to leaving Nike and signing a deal with Under Armour. Frank Isola of the NYDN first reported it and now the rumor seems to becoming a reality.

The Baltimore Business Journal is reporting that Durant bailed on a meeting with Nike yesterday. His seven-year $60 Nike contract expired this year.

There were also these tweets from Jeff Ermann of InsideMdSports.com.

(University of Maryland is sponsored by Under Armour, and Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, is a Maryland alum.)

So, what do these rumors mean?

To begin, Under Armour is based in Maryland and has strong connections throughout the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area.

Plank and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis have a relationship and have participated in philanthropic measures, according to Isola.

Lastly, Durant and his team know if he is part of a company based in Maryland and playing for the Wizards, his marketability sky rockets. There is no way around that. He could become the face of Under Armour and the DMV area.

I can't think of another star player living and playing where their biggest sponsor is based. There is a business side to sports and that is a lot of money and exposure to pass up on.

However, everything we know about Durant is that basketball is his first love, not to become marketable. This is just more speculation to add too the fire. You can take it for what you want. Him signing with Under Armour could be seen as potentially concerning for Thunder fans.

But before everyone loses their minds (again), 2016 is a long way away and we have no clue what is going to happen.