NBA agents work to represent the best interests of their clients all year round, but those agents really earn their money – including a nice commission – during free agency. Not many players will earn maximum-salary contracts like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, so an agency that squeezes out a couple extra million dollars or an extra guaranteed year in negotiations can make a huge difference for a client.
Based on the data in our 2013 free agent tracker, well over 100 players signed contracts with NBA teams that included at least a partial guarantee. By cross-referencing those contract figures with the information in our agency database, we can get an idea of which agencies fared this best this summer, and determine whether certain reps have developed similar negotiating habits for multiple clients.
A few caveats before we dive into the breakdown:
- The info in our free agent tracker is based on contract details that have been reported to date. In some cases, a player has been said to have a partial guarantee on his contract, but we haven't heard specifics on how big that guarantee is. If those details have yet to be reported, we're excluding those players from our calculations, and considering them to be non-guaranteed for now. That includes guys like Ronnie Brewer, Lance Thomas, Trent Lockett, Richard Howell, and Rodney Williams, among others.
- Players who signed overseas, players believed to have accepted non-guaranteed camp invites, and draft picks who signed deals with NBA teams aren't included in this summary. That means, for our purposes, BDA Sports won't get credit for Luke Babbitt's deal in Russia (an international signing), Wasserman Media won't get credit for Fab Melo's deal with the Mavs (reportedly a non-guaranteed camp invite), and Relativity Sports won't get credit for Nick Calathes' deal with the Grizzlies (Memphis held Calathes' draft rights, rather than signing him as a free agent).
- Our overall figures for each agency are based on guaranteed salary, which doesn't include team options, but does include player options and early termination options, since the player is guaranteed that money if he chooses to accept it. The figures in our tracker are also rounded to the nearest thousand, so our totals may not be accurate down to the dollar, but they're very close.
- There are a small handful of 2013 signees whose agents we have yet to confirm, but those guys all signed minimum-salary contracts, so their absence won't have a significant impact our totals.
Without further ado, here's a look at the first 10 agencies to secure guaranteed NBA deals for multiple NBA clients this offseason. Part two of our feature, which will include the summer's top eight agencies, will be published tomorrow.
Their overall total may not show it, but Impact Sports did a nice job in free agency this season, securing multiyear guarantees for a couple of players that don't figure to be cracking an NBA team's starting lineup anytime soon. In addition to finding deals for Pendergraph and Sloan, the agency also secured camp invites for clients like Dexter Pittman and Michael Snaer.
The Knicks are known for having a handful of CAA clients on their roster, but it's worth noting that two Pinnacle clients (World Peace and Beno Udrih) took discounts to join the club this summer. That may merely be a coincidence, considering both players talked about how much they wanted to play in New York, but it's interesting nonetheless.
David Falk might not be the same super-agent he was a decade or two ago, but he and his agency are still doing solid work around the edges. This summer's deals for Neal, Brand, and Toney Douglas are all fully guaranteed, with Brand and Douglas landing slightly larger salaries than I would've predicted. FAME also convinced the Spurs to withdraw their qualifying offer to Neal, opening up the market for him a little.
Goodwin Sports only has a handful of current NBA players on its roster, so this was an eventful offseason for the agency, and the results were something of a mixed bag. I was surprised that Robinson couldn't score a slightly larger payday, but landing Francisco Garcia a deal with a second-year player option was impressive, after he underperformed on his last contract. Goodwin negotiated a second-year player option for Robinson as well, so both he and Garcia will have the opportunity to explore free agency again next summer.
Luol Deng and the Bulls explored a possible contract extension this summer, but Ginobili's negotiations with the Spurs likely remained the top priority for Herb Rudoy and Interperformances. Despite the fact that Ginobili will take a significant pay cut when it comes to annual salary, the agency still did well to get him a $14.5MM guarantee — given Manu's declining production and health concerns, a contract worth around mid-level money wouldn't have been a surprise.
The first of two agencies on our list that didn't actually have multiple NBA clients sign guaranteed deals this summer, Vartanian/Simmons had to be included for representing one of the league's marquee free agents. Still, Millsap's pact with the Hawks is generally viewed as one of the more team-friendly contracts of the offseason. Perhaps Millsap was so enamored of Atlanta's pitch that he didn't feel the need to shop around further, but it's hard to believe another team wouldn't have topped the Hawks' offer.
Raymond Brothers and IAM Sports locked up one of the jewels of the 2013 draft by signing Victor Oladipo, but July wasn't overly active for the agency. Allen and Aminu both re-signed with their previous teams, and in my opinion, the years and dollars for both players are pretty fair.
Free agency perhaps wasn't quite as dramatic this time around for Williams & Connolly, who also represent players like Ray Allen and Jeremy Lin. Allen's and Lin's free agencies last summer resulted in wars of words between the Heat and Celtics, and Knicks and Rockets, but Pachulia and Wright signed fairly quietly. In any case, I like both deals for the agency — Pachulia in particular seems a little overvalued at $5MM+ per year, so Williams & Connolly did well to get all three years guaranteed.
No team in part one of this feature had nearly as many clients sign at least partially-guaranteed deals as BDA, who had eight by our count. There isn't a marquee name among BDA's group — Budinger is the only player to receive a guarantee worth more than McRoberts' $5.423MM. But BDA made sure plenty of players, all the way down to guys like Ian Clark and Matthew Dellavedova, received at least a partial guarantee.
The most curious case here was Greg Oden's. BDA negotiated player options for several of their other players, including Budinger, McRoberts, and Darren Collison, so it's odd that Oden didn't ultimately get the second-year option he was initially reported as having. That suggests to me that the former first overall pick badly wanted to play for the Heat, giving the team leverage to make a smaller offer (in both years and dollars) than other suitors might have.
Like Vartanian/Simmons, Octagon represented only one big-name free agent this summer, negotiating a new three-year deal in Indiana for West. While it wasn't necessarily the busiest summer for the agency, the coming season could make up for that. Jimmer Fredette, Kendall Marshall, and Rudy Gay are among the Octagon clients whose names may surface in trade rumors before February's deadline.