Agencies

Latest On Legal Battle Between Dan Fegan, ISE

JUNE 1, 9:54am: A representative for Independent Sports & Entertainment has issued the following statement to Hoops Rumors regarding the Fegan case:

“ISE will vigorously enforce its rights against Dan Fegan in the upcoming arbitration proceeding and will seek all damages caused by Mr. Fegan’s outrageous behavior toward ISE and the agents that were under his supervision. The arbitrator already expressly rejected Mr. Fegan’s argument that the non-compete agreement is unenforceable — the third finder-of-fact to do so, and ruled that ISE can seek damages against Mr. Fegan for his wrongful conduct.”

MAY 31, 10:57pm: An arbitrator has ruled in favor of Dan Fegan in his legal battle with former employer Independent Sports & Entertainment, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

The arbitrator’s ruling denies ISE’s request for a preliminary injunction to prevent Fegan from competing against the agency. Fegan, who was fired in March as president of ISE basketball, has since launched his own company, Dynasty Sports Management.

Fegan has been among the leading agents for NBA players for some time, but in recent years he has been dismissed by high-profile clients such as John Wall, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard. ISE claimed it had just cause for Fegan’s firing at the time of termination — the agency alleges that Fegan was operating a side business while working for ISE.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Back-To-Backs, Teodosic, Fegan

The Clippers benefited from the Cavaliers‘ decision to rest their stars over the weekend, routing Cleveland’s reserves by a 30-point margin on Saturday night. However, Clippers head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers suggests that the NBA ought to do something to address situations where one of a team’s two back-to-back games is nationally televised.

“We have to protect our product,” Rivers said, per Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com. “It’s hard. It’s impossible, if you actually knew what went into scheduling, but the look of back-to-back ABC national games — it’s not good. … I think we have to treat those games like they’re afternoon games, and you don’t play the night before, and then you don’t play the next night after.”

As the NBA considers how to deal with the issue of teams resting healthy players, let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the league…

  • In his latest blog post for Eurohoops.net, CSKA Moscow star Milos Teodosic once again suggested that he’ll seriously consider signing with an NBA team this summer. For him to seriously consider an NBA team, that club would have to meet his “competitive ambitions” on the court in addition to making a competitive contract offer, Teodosic writes.
  • One third of the NBA’s teams hired new coaches in the 2016 offseason, but stability has reigned since then, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Assuming no coach is fired in the next few weeks, 2016/17 will be the first season in 53 years in which no team has made an in-season coaching change.
  • A judge has issued a temporary restraining order against prominent NBA agent Dan Fegan, recently fired by Independent Sports and Entertainment, to prevent him from competing against his former agency, reports Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link). Meanwhile, ISE is working to expand its basketball representation business, either through new hirings or via an agency acquisition, per Mullen.

ISE Agency Fires Dan Fegan, Hires Kevin Johnson

Independent Sports & Entertainment, an agency that represents a number of NBA players, has terminated the contract of veteran NBA agent Dan Fegan, according to a press release (Twitter link via Sam Amick of USA Today). Fegan, who had been the president of ISE basketball, will be replaced in the interim by chief marketing officer Chris Grancio.

In addition to letting go of Fegan, the agency has also hired former NBA player and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who will serve as a vice chairman for the company. While Johnson’s history in politics and in the NBA should make him a good fit for such a role, it’s a somewhat surprising hire, given his history — Johnson has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, and has been linked to political scandal.

As ISE’s website shows, the agency represents many well-paid NBA veterans, including DeMarcus Cousins, Chandler Parsons, and Ricky Rubio. Several younger players who will be in line for bigger paydays in the coming years, including Jusuf Nurkic, Rodney Hood, and Cameron Payne, are also represented by the agency.

Many of those players are Fegan clients, so it will be interesting to see whether they stick with ISE, or follow Fegan elsewhere. The veteran agent has been fired by John Wall, DeAndre Jordan, and Dwight Howard in recent years, and according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell (via Twitter), ISE says it has cause for Fegan’s termination. So it’s possible his clients will simply stay with the agency and work with someone else in the company.

This will be a situation worth keeping an eye on as those ISE clients approach free agency — Cousins’ situation, in particular, should be an interesting one. The Pelicans big man is eligible to hit the open market in 2018.

Klay Thompson Changes Agencies

He won’t be a free agent until after the 2018/19 season, but Klay Thompson has switched agencies; making the leap from BDA Sports to Wasserman. According to Liz Mullen of Sports Business Daily, Greg Lawrence of Wasserman will be Thompson’s lead agent.

Thompson had previously been represented by Rade Filipovich and Bill Duffy of BDA Sports. Thompson will immediately become Lawrence’s highest profile client. According to RealGM (link), Lawrence’s longest tenured clients are Dorell Wright, J.J. Redick, and Spencer Hawes.

Thompson is currently in the second year of a four-year, $68,979,450 pact with Golden State. Thompson’s rate of $16,663,575 is second on the team to Kevin Durant, who will earn $26,540,100 this season. Thompson has averaged 21.8 points on 41.8% 3-point shooting through 53 games in 2016/17.

The Warriors, who have a total cap of $99,689,888, will have eight players become unrestricted free agents at season’s end; the most notable being Stephen Curry.

And-Ones: Peters, Frazier, Hamilton

Valparaiso junior power forward Alec Peters intends to enter the 2016 NBA draft, the university announced. He doesn’t intend to hire an agent, according to the press release, so that will allow him to return to college ball if he withdraws prior to the May 25th deadline. Peters is the No. 34 ranked junior by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and he averaged 18.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 35 contests on the season.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Pelicans consider it a priority to hang on to Tim Frazier and James Ennis this summer, as Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate hears (Twitter links). New Orleans can make both restricted free agents this offseason with qualifying offers. New Orleans is poised to ink Ennis for the remainder of the season once his 10-day contract expires on Friday.
  • Vanderbilt first-round prospect Wade Baldwin is giving consideration to hiring Priority Sports to represent him, international journalist David Pick tweets. Baldwin is the 16th-best prospect according to Givony, and he’s No. 22 with Chad Ford of ESPN.com.
  • Connecticut sophomore small forward Daniel Hamilton intends to hire an agent, which would eliminate the opportunity for him to withdraw from the draft and return to NCAA play for another season, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv relays (via Twitter). That’s a change from earlier, when UConn’s official announcement said Hamilton didn’t intend to secure representation.
  • Hawaii junior combo guard Aaron Valdes intends to declare for the 2016 NBA draft, Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com tweets. The junior isn’t a projected 2016 selection according to Givony.
  • Projected lottery pick Jamal Murray is leaning toward hiring Excel Sports Management to represent him, Pick relays (on Twitter). The Kentucky freshman point guard is currently ranked No. 6 overall by Givony and is slotted No. 4 by Ford.
  • Boise State junior combo forward James Webb III has hired agent Charles Briscoe of Briscoe Sports Management to represent him, eliminating the possibility of him returning to school for his senior campaign, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports. Webb is a contender to become a second-round pick, ranking 69th in Ford’s listings and 81st on Givony’s board.

Southeast Notes: Grunfeld, Johnson, Howard

It’s been a down year for the Wizards, but team president Ernie Grunfeld doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, since he’s under contract for next season, league sources revealed to Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The terms of Grunfeld’s pact hadn’t been clear, and it remains unknown when Grunfeld and owner Ted Leonsis included this season in the arrangement. The pressure remains on coach Randy Wittman, who’s also under contract for next season but with only a partial guarantee on his salary, and Wittman’s relationship with the team’s players has reportedly deteriorated.

See more from Washington amid items from the Southeast Division:

  • Two soon-to-be free agents on the Wizards have dropped their agents to instead hire Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, as SportsBusiness Journal reports in a subscription-only piece. Ramon Sessions left Allegiant Athletic Agency’s Jared Karnes to team up with Bartelstein while Garrett Temple parted with John Hamilton of Performance Sports Management.
  • Heat buyout market signee Joe Johnson isn’t giving the team quite as much return on its investment of late after a hot start, though coach Erik Spoelstra, among others, isn’t overly concerned, as Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald chronicles. Johnson will hit free agency again this summer after his short-term deal with Miami is over. “Joe’s a vet, an experienced guy,” said fellow soon-to-be free agent Luol Deng. “We’re not worried about the vet guys. He’ll be fine.”
  • Dwight Howard reportedly has interest in returning to the Magic, but the team would be unwise to give him the maximum salary of around $30MM that he and new agent Perry Rogers will no doubt request, opines Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. Schmitz believes the Magic should stop at around $20MM and thinks the team would prefer to sign a free agent with less baggage.

J.R. Smith To Drop CAA, Hire Klutch Sports

J.R. Smith is in the midst of parting with agent Leon Rose and the Creative Artists Agency and plans to sign with Rich Paul of the LeBron James-backed Klutch Sports Group, reports Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It’s the latest step in the growing bond between Smith and James, who’ve strengthened their connection on the court and off since Smith arrived in Cleveland via trade in January 2015, Haynes writes. Smith is on an unusual two-year contract that includes a player option and partially guaranteed salary for next season.

That deal came at the end of a frustrating summer for Smith, who turned down a player option worth nearly $6.4MM and lingered on the market for about two months before agreeing to a $5MM salary for this season. The partial guarantee on next season’s $5.375MM salary is worth only $2.2MM, though it increases to a full guarantee if he remains under contract through September 7th.

Smith will join James and fellow Cavs teammate Tristan Thompson as clients of Paul. The swingman represents the latest score for Klutch, which also landed Ben Simmons, a prime contender for the No. 1 overall pick who announced his selection of Klutch on Wednesday. John Wall left Dan Fegan of Relativity Sports to sign with Paul earlier this season.  CAA has also otherwise had a strong year so far, landing Joel Embiid as well as soon-to-be free agent Pau Gasol.

The 30-year-old Smith has had a reputation for inconsistent play and stirred controversy in the past, but he was recently cleared of any wrongdoing in a case involving an incident outside a New York nightclub. Coach Tyronn Lue is impressed with Smith’s growth, as Haynes relays.

“Just talking to him the other day after the game, just hearing his maturity. I think him taking that step he took this summer, I think that’s helped him off the court,” Lue said. “And then on the court, every night, he’s giving us effort every single night. He’s playing hard. He’s competing and that’s all we can ask of J.R. It’s been good because I’ve known him since he was 18 years old, just to see the growth and how he’s matured over the years.”

Dwight Howard Fires Agent Dan Fegan

Dwight Howard has left agent Dan Fegan, reports USA Today’s Sam Amick (Twitter link). The Rockets center is widely expected to turn down his player option and hit free agency this summer. The center is earning $22,359,364 for this season and the value of his option for 2016/17 is $23,282,457. Howard has been interviewing replacements for Fegan lately, tweets Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com.

The Mavericks, who have close ties with Fegan, were one of the teams the Rockets spoke with about Howard before the trade deadline. Today’s news would appear to lessen the chances of Howard signing with Dallas as a free agent this summer, but that’s just my speculation. Fegan, who developed a reputation as an aggressive agent in part through his representation of Howard over the years, also counts DeMarcus Cousins, Ricky Rubio, soon-to-be free agent Courtney Lee and other notables among his clients. Kevin Martin is one of them, and the Rockets reportedly have interest in him if he works a buyout from the Timberwolves. Fegan’s profile has nonetheless taken some significant hits lately. He used to represent DeAndre Jordan, who notoriously spurned the Mavs this summer before splitting with the agent, and John Wall, who dropped him earlier this month.

Fegan and Houston were reportedly working in concert to try to find a trade partner for Howard before the deadline, but Fegan appeared to deny that, while Howard affirmed Fegan’s statement and said he didn’t ask the Rockets to trade him. Numerous teams were interested in Howard, though any deal would have been contingent on the big man agreeing to opt in for next season, something Howard wasn’t keen on, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Aside from the Mavs, Houston was in touch with the BullsHawks, CelticsHornets, HeatBucks and Raptors about Howard, according to multiple reports, but the market for him was apparently soft.

The 30-year-old has appeared in 47 games this season for the Rockets and is averaging 14.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 32.5 minutes per night. The big man’s numbers have suffered this season as his shots and touches are down, which is reportedly the source of some conflict between he and teammate James Harden. Both players have downplayed any reported tension.

Marcin Gortat Changing Agents

Marcin Gortat has parted ways with agent Guy Zucker, a source told J. Michael of CSNWashington.com (Twitter links). It’s unclear whom he’s targeting to hire as his new representative. Zucker has repped the 31-year-old center through his nine seasons in the NBA, helping him score a five-year, $60MM contract with the Wizards in 2014.

That deal doesn’t expire until the summer of 2019 and contains no option clauses, so Gortat isn’t due for another negotiation for quite some time. Neither is teammate John Wall, who left Dan Fegan for Rich Paul this year seemingly in large measure because his sneaker endorsement contract was up. Still, Gortat has been critical of his teammates this season, one in which the Wizards have gone 21-25, well short of expectations, and Washington’s future is uncertain as the possibility of landing Kevin Durant in free agency appears to fade with each loss.

Gortat had been Zucker’s most prominent client, a distinction that falls to Hawks swingman Thabo Sefolosha in the wake of the big man’s move. Bradley Beal, Washington’s star player aside from Wall, is with Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports & Entertainment.

John Wall Changes Agents, Hires Rich Paul

JANUARY 26TH, 2:17pm: Wall has officially hired Paul and the Klutch Sports Group, a spokesperson for Paul told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

2:21pm: Wall will sign with Paul, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer has been told, but Wall said to TNT’s David Aldridge that he hasn’t signed with anyone yet, calling his departure from Fegan a “long story” (Twitter links).

2:04pm: Wall is leaning toward signing with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, the agent for LeBron James, as sources have indicated to Heitner (Twitter link).

JANUARY 12TH, 1:53pm: John Wall has fired agent Dan Fegan of Relativity Sports, as sources tell Darren Heitner of Forbes and the Sports Agent Blog, and as Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post confirms (Twitter link). Wall is in the second season of a five-year, maximum-salary extension worth $84,789,500 that Fegan negotiated for him in 2013. The Wizards point guard seemed to express frustration this summer about having missed out on the projected escalations to the salary cap, pointing to the five-year, $80MM contract Reggie Jackson signed with the Pistons. Wall could have been an unrestricted free agent this summer if he had played out his rookie scale contract and signed a qualifying offer with the Wizards in 2014, but that would have meant a significant financial sacrifice last season, and players rarely turn down max extensions. Still, the deal doesn’t include a player option on the final season, a feature that many max extensions have.

Fegan is one of the NBA’s most powerful agents, though his client list took a hit over the offseason in the wake of the DeAndre Jordan saga. Jordan dropped him and fellow agent Jarinn Akana in August, more than a month after his about-face on his decision to sign with the Mavericks. Fegan has close ties to Mavs owner Mark Cuban. Austin Rivers, the son of Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers, also left Relativity in 2015 after a brief time with the agency, and Relativity lost Ed Davis, too, as Heitner points out (on Twitter). However, Jordan, Rivers and Davis all departed after signing free agent deals, so Fegan and his partners are still getting their percentages.

Happy Walters, another prominent Relativity agent, left the agency this past fall. Fegan still has a long list of NBA clients, including DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons.