LeBron James’s agent was in an extremely unpleasant situation. The case went to court
New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel is suing his former agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Paul works with 29 players, including LeBron James (a close friend), Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, Draymond Green, Lonzo Ball and many other NBA stars. Everyone seems to be not complaining, but Noel claims that the most powerful agent in the league has done him a disservice. Tsentrovoy claims that in several years of cooperation with Paul, he lost $ 58 million.
Noelle and Paul met in the summer of 2017 at Ben Simmons’ birthday party. They were sitting at the same table, and Rich offered the player, then playing for Dallas, to become his agent. He convinced the basketball player that he was a “$ 100 million guy” and promised to help him get the top speed. Among other things, he advised Noel to stop negotiating a long-term renewal with Mavericks and agree to a qualifying offer in order to try his luck in the free agency market a year later. And in the Texas club, Noel was offered almost $ 70 million for four years. The amount is impressive, but Nerlens still followed Paul’s advice. A month later, he stopped working with Happy Walters, who at that time was his agent, and began working with the notorious Klutch Sports.
Turning down the $ 70 million offer was certainly a big risk. Especially considering Noel’s penchant for injury. But Nerlens (apparently well motivated by Paul) believed in himself. Apparently, I thought that the finances that were lost that year would be more than compensated by the desired “maximum speed”. At the end of the 2017/2018 season, he earned only $ 4.1 million in a qualifying offer instead of a potential $ 17.5 million.
“I definitely don’t regret anything. I have no worries, because I know what I am capable of, ”the player explained his refusal.
However, the risk was not justified. The center did not really manage to prove himself on the court, and then he received another injury, underwent surgery and finally dropped out of the Dallas rotation. As a result, he spent only 30 matches for the entire season, in which he received on average less than 16 minutes of playing time and gained 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. Among other things, there were questions about Noel’s work ethic. At the end of the season, the player was suspended for five matches for violating the anti-drug program. There could be no talk of any “maximum speed” for $ 108 million.
During that season, Paul “began to lose interest in Noel as a client,” the lawsuit says. Neither the agent himself nor anyone from Klutch Sports provided the player with a specific plan to obtain at least a long-term contract. Not to mention the promised maximum agreement. As a result, on the day when the long-awaited free agent market opened, the player did not receive a single offer. And the fact that a week later he ended up in Oklahoma was not Paul’s merit, but Russell Westbrook and Paul George , who were playing Thunder at that time . Although the agent still earned 2% of the amount of the agreement. Noel agreed to a minimum contract with Oklahoma ($ 3.75 million) for two years. For the second season, the player option was extended.
A year later, the situation repeats itself. Paul and Klutch Sports finally score on the player. The agency does nothing to somehow increase the interest of other teams in it. Eventually, on Paul’s advice, Noel ditched the player option for a second season and re-entered the free agency market. But this attempt also did not turn out to be successful. And the lawsuit found a very amusing explanation for this. There were rumors in the league that the center would sign a new contract with Thunder, a very large one at that. It was about a three-year agreement for an impressive amount. It is believed that the false information was spread by either Paul or someone from Klutch Sports or Oklahoma itself. This is now the justification for the complete lack of interest in Noel in the free agency market. One way or another, the center, once again left without a single proposal,
Subsequently, the player learned that Philadelphia was interested in his return that summer. He was informed about this by former Sixers coach Brett Brown. According to him, the player’s agent simply did not pick up the phone. At the same time, Paul ignored calls not only from the Sixers, but also from other teams that were ready to discuss Noel’s possible transition.
A year later, the situation did not move from a dead center. Throughout the season, there was no work on Noel at Klutch Sports. Moreover, in January 2020, the player tried to terminate the agreement with the agent, but that was not the case. Paul’s colleague Lucas Newtonassured Nerlens that they were negotiating with Oklahoma about re-signing it for three years with a salary of $ 7-10 million a year. And the player continued his collaboration with Klutch Sports. However, in November, when the free agency market opened, Noel found himself in a familiar situation for the third time. Zero suggestions. Newton continued to convince him that the agency was negotiating with Thunder, just that the team did not have enough room under the salary ceiling. However, on the second day after the market opened, the player was directly contacted by Knicks President Leon Rose. Days later, the center signed a one-year deal with the New York-based club for $ 5 million.
Later, Noel was informed that his agent simply ignored the calls during that offseason. This time from the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers. The player made the final decision to end cooperation with Paul in December 2020. Then he learned that other players who worked with Rich found themselves in a similar situation ( Norris Cole and Shabazz Muhammad are mentioned in the lawsuit ). And that was the last straw. Noel canceled the contract and found a new agent – he was George Langberg ands GSL. And this year, the 27-year-old center finally received a more or less solid offer. He will remain with the Knicks until 2024 and will earn $ 32 million. But this is almost half the amount that, according to Noel, he lost during his collaboration with Paul. In four years, he earned only $ 12 million instead of the 70 that he could have received at Dallas. The lost $ 58 million difference, in his opinion, is entirely on the conscience of the incompetent agent.
The player decided to sue Paul after almost 9 months. This is because Klutch Sports recently sent a complaint to the NBA about Noel himself. The agency says he failed to pay $ 200,000 in commission on his previous one-year contract with the Knicks. Be that as it may, now these two will face a difficult trial. But so far we can see the situation only from one side – the agent did not give any comments about what happened.
The only serious complaint against Paul is the failure to fulfill his direct duties. He had to provide his client with decent representation, even if he was not a league superstar and holder of a bloated contract. What Paul promised Noel before the start of the collaboration does not matter anymore. Surely Nerlens is not the only player in the league to whom the agents prophesied mountains of gold. However, Rich’s approach to work raises some questions. And this is, first of all, a matter of reputation. Reputation not only of Paul, but of the entire agency Klutch Sports, with which LeBron James is very closely associated. It turns out that two very influential people in the league were hit at once, albeit officially and directly, the matter concerns only Rich. It’s no secret that LeBron has a big impact on Paul and Klutch Sports in general. Officially it cannot be proved, but James can influence the rest of the league players with his agency. Anthony Davis’s move from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Lakers is proof of that.
Noel’s chances of winning the lawsuit look very slim. The fact that other teams were really interested in him, and that the transition was interrupted by Paul who did not pick up the phone, still needs to be proved. And why should he be held accountable for the ill-fated $ 58 million? Yes, he advised to give them up. Yes, this is a great loss for Noel. On the other hand, it is not Paul’s fault that the player’s value in the market has dropped so much in just one season. You never know what plans Klutch Sports had for it. Plus, everything can be attributed to injury, inconclusive statistics at Dallas, lack of work ethic, and indeed anything that does not depend on Paul. It remains only to observe what tactics the agent will choose. But first you need to wait for at least the first official comment – perhaps it will bring some clarity to the situation.