Rich Paul

L.A. Notes: Ham, LeBron, Pelinka, Harden, Ballmer, George

There were signs throughout the season that head coach Darvin Ham was going to take the fall if the Lakers couldn’t make another long playoff run, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Ham was officially fired on Friday after L.A. was dispatched by Denver in five games, but it had been clear that move was coming for a long time, Shelburne adds.

Sources tell Shelburne that LeBron James was resistant to Ham’s idea to limit his minutes early in the season. James’ wishes prevailed and that plan was discarded after a few games. Players also openly questioned Ham’s strategies throughout the season, culminating with Anthony Davis saying after the Game 2 loss to Denver, “We have stretches where we don’t know what we’re doing on both ends of the floor.”

Shelburne notes that the Lakers have cycled through head coaches ever since Phil Jackson‘s retirement in 2011, with none lasting more than three seasons. That list includes Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni, who both went on to win Coach of the Year honors with other teams after leaving L.A. To avoid another short-term hire, Shelburne advises Lakers management to approach this coaching search with a clear idea of its vision for the team.

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Ham was undermined internally, which made it impossible for him to succeed, contends Jim Alexander of The Orange County Register. Alexander speculates that anonymous complaints were leaked by general manager Rob Pelinka to deflect blame from his questionable personnel moves, along with James and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. The danger, according to Alexander, is that the front office may have fired Ham without having an obvious candidate in mind to replace him.
  • James Harden declined to speculate on his future after the Clippers were eliminated Friday night in Dallas, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Harden demanded a trade out of Philadelphia after president of basketball operations Daryl Morey refused to give him the long-term contract he was expecting, but it’s uncertain if the Clippers will be willing to meet his demands this summer. “I don’t even know,” Harden responded when reporters asked about his upcoming free agency. “You’re asking me a question that I don’t have the answer to. I haven’t even thought about it.”
  • Coach Tyronn Lue is working out his own future with the Clippers, but he was gratified that owner Steve Ballmer addressed the team after Friday’s loss, Turner adds. “You have the seventh-, eighth-richest man in the world and he’s a real fan. Like, he’s a real fan. Like, he treats us like family,” Lue said. “He actually genuinely cares about each individual and we’ve seen that time and time again. So, when you have an owner that really respects who you are, not as a basketball player, but a person and who you are, that means a lot. Not just putting you on a basketball court and saying, ‘OK, you work for me.’ Like, he really genuinely cares about each individual. He cares about the wins. He’s fired up. He’s passionate about it. And, so, that’s what I love the most about Mr. Ballmer. He treats everyone as equals.”
  • The Clippers‘ reluctance to guarantee a fourth year has held up extension talks with Paul George, sources tell Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints. George is eligible for up to $221MM over four seasons, but Azarly’s sources say the team’s latest offer falls short of that figure.

And-Ones: Australia, McLemore, York, Jerebko, Calipari, Klutch

The Australian national team has revealed its preliminary roster for the 2024 Olympics, announcing a list of 22 players that are in the mix to play in Paris. That group will have to be cut down to 12 players ahead of this summer’s tournament.

Australia’s preliminary roster includes several NBAers, including Thunder guard Josh Giddey, Mavericks guard Dante Exum, Trail Blazers forward Matisse Thybulle and big man Duop Reath, Mavericks wing Josh Green, Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels, Magic forward Joe Ingles, Heat guard Patty Mills, Rockets center Jock Landale, and Grizzlies forward Jack White.

As Olgun Uluc of ESPN notes, the newest addition to the Boomers’ roster is 19-year-old Johnny Furphy, who played for the Kansas Jayhawks in 2023/24 and is projected by ESPN to be a potential first-round pick in this year’s draft.

The most notable absence is Ben Simmons, as the Nets guard underwent back surgery last month that will sideline him for the Olympics. Simmons doesn’t have much history with the Australian national team, so it’s unclear if he would’ve been part of the Boomers’ roster in Paris even if he’d been healthy.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Ben McLemore was arrested and jailed this week in Oregon and faces multiple felony sexual assault charges, reports Baxter Holmes of ESPN. The charges, which include first-degree rape, stem from an alleged incident in 2021, when McLemore was a member of the Trail Blazers.
  • Former NBA guard Gabe York, who appeared in five games for the Pacers across two seasons from 2021-23, has signed with Basquet Girona, the Spanish team announced this week in a press release. York played for the G League Ignite earlier this season.
  • Following a two-year hiatus from basketball, Swedish forward Jonas Jerebko is making a comeback, having signed with Puerto Rican team Santeros de Aguada, according to Eurohoops. Jerebko, who turned 37 last month, appeared in 635 NBA regular season games for four teams from 2009-19. He last played professionally for CSKA Moscow in 2022.
  • Shams Charania and Kyle Tucker of The Athletic take an in-depth look at John Calipari‘s decision to leave Kentucky for Arkansas after 15 years with the Wildcats, detailing how Calipari’s deal with the Razorbacks came about.
  • One Legacy Sports Management, led by veteran agent Mike George, is becoming part of Klutch Sports, CEO Rich Paul tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Jamal Murray, Dillon Brooks, and Shaedon Sharpe are among George’s clients, per RealGM.

Grizzlies’ Morant, Knicks’ Burks Seek Out New Agents

Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant and agent Jim Tanner have parted ways, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Morant has been represented by Tanner since he declared for the 2019 draft. Morant was the No. 2 overall pick that June and blossomed into a max-level player.

The change in representation won’t impact his on-court earnings for a while, since Morant is under contract through the 2027/28 season. He signed a five-year, maximum-salary extension in 2022.

It has been a lost season for Morant, who was handed a 25-game league suspension in June for a series of off-court incidents. The two-time All-Star scored 34 points and made a game-winning shot in his season debut after serving out the suspension. However, he only appeared in nine games before he required season-ending surgery for a labral tear in his right shoulder.

Morant has four years and $163.2MM left on his contract after 2023/24, including an approximate $36.7MM salary next season.

Knicks guard Alec Burks is also changing agents, Newsday’s Steve Popper tweets. He’s moving on from Octagon to join Rich Paul and Anthony Fields of Klutch Sports.

Burks will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Burks, who is making $10.49MM in 2023/24, was dealt back to New York by Detroit at the trade deadline. Burks has struggled with his shooting in 20 appearances since the trade, averaging 7.2 points in 14.6 minutes with a 31.6% overall field goal percentage, including 30% from deep.

Burks, who averaged 12.6 points on 39.4% shooting (40.1% on 3-point attempts) in 43 games with the Pistons this season, should still attract interest in the free agent market. He’s a career 38.3% three-point shooter and has averaged double digits in scoring, mostly off the bench, over the last five seasons.

Knicks, Rich Paul Reportedly Work Out Differences

Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met with Knicks management on Friday and “things were hashed out,” a source told Stefan Bondy of The New York Post (Twitter link). The two sides are now focused on moving forward with a better working relationship, says Bondy.

Paul had a long-running feud with Knicks management of unknown origin, though it’s worth noting that New York has a reputation of favoring clients of CAA, the agency that employed Leon Rose before he took over as New York’s president of basketball operations.

While Paul’s most famous client is Lakers superstar LeBron James, he represents many players around the league, including Hawks guard Dejounte Murray. The former All-Star has been one of the more accomplished players frequently mentioned in trade rumors this season.

A December report from Ian Begley of said “some prominent members” of the Knicks viewed Murray as an “ideal trade target,” but there was a hurdle to overcome due to Paul. However, Begley also said Paul was open to an in-person meeting with the Knicks to work out their differences, and now that has reportedly come to fruition.

It’s unclear if the cleared air between Paul and Knicks brass will be the impetus for renewed trade talks for Murray, but it’s certainly a noteworthy development with the trade deadline less than a week away.

The Hawks are viewed by rival executives as the “most active and aggressive team” on the trade market, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, and they’re said to be interested in third-year wing Quentin Grimes. New York has multiple future first-round picks — which Atlanta reportedly covets for Murray — and also has Evan Fournier for salary-matching purposes.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Nets, Bridges, Knicks

The Raptors made a change to their starting five on Wednesday, inserting Gary Trent Jr. into the lineup in place of Dennis Schröder. As Blake Murphy of writes, the previous starters are the only five-man group in the NBA this season that has played at least 175 minutes and been outscored, so a change was overdue.

While the new starting lineup was technically outscored in 10 minutes of action on Wednesday, forwards Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby looked more comfortable operating with additional space on the floor and each scored 20-plus points en route to a blowout victory over Washington. Schröder also thrived in his new role off the bench — he was a game-high +29 in his 28 minutes, dishing 10 assists to go along with his nine points.

Head coach Darko Rajakovic said the new lineup isn’t set in stone, notes Josh Lewenberg of, but it should give the Raptors more information on their roster as the trade deadline approaches. As Lewenberg outlines, the team will get to see whether Barnes and Siakam fit better together with another shooter on the floor, as well as evaluating whether Barnes can hold his own operating as the primary play-maker without a point guard alongside him.

According to Lewenberg, the Raptors don’t really have the personnel to play the way that Rajakovic would like to, so he’ll have to be flexible in his philosophies in order to adapt to this roster — the starting lineup tweak, which he long resisted, is a reflection of that.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Nets essentially punted away Wednesday’s game vs. Milwaukee, the second in a back-to-back set, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. In addition to holding out starters Cameron Johnson, Nic Claxton, and Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn didn’t use Mikal Bridges, Royce O’Neale, or Cam Thomas after the first quarter, giving them a de facto rest day too. “I’ve got to think short term and long term and make executive decisions for the betterment of the group,” Vaughn told reporters ahead of the 144-122 loss. “So that’s where we’re at tonight. Just being smart about what is presented in front of us.”
  • The Nets‘ plan on Wednesday didn’t sit particularly well with Bridges, who extended his games played streak to 423 despite only logging 12 minutes, all in the first quarter, Braziller writes for The New York Post. Bridges said he didn’t want to “just get in there for the streak,” adding that he’s healthy and would’ve been fine playing more. “Didn’t like the choice and whatever that was. But it’s whatever,” Bridges said. “Definitely was not a fan.”
  • Echoing a recent story from Ian Begley of, Stefan Bondy of The New York Post cites multiple sources who say Klutch Sports has “made it clear it’d prefer not to do business” with the Knicks. While Klutch obviously couldn’t stop the Knicks from trading for one of its clients, Bondy suggests that “landmines are set and often detonated if a player or his camp don’t want to be there.” Still, Bondy believes there’s a real chance of peace between the two sides, noting that both Rich Paul and the Knicks are open to meeting to work out their issues. The origins of the beef aren’t known, though Bondy speculates within his story about some possible factors.

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Bucks, Brunson, D. Murray

Knicks forward RJ Barrett broke out of a shooting slump in Monday’s home victory over Milwaukee, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Barrett, who had converted just 36.7% of his field goal attempts over the past six games leading into Monday, set the tone early with 14 points in the first quarter, ultimately finishing with 21 on 8-of-14 shooting in 28 minutes.

I got into a good rhythm early in the game, helped us get a lead,” Barrett said. “After that, it was kind of trying to play the game and listen to what the game was telling me to do.”

Barrett, 23, is in the first season of a four-year, $107MM+ rookie scale extension.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Christmas Day win snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Bucks, with three of those losses coming in 2023/24, notes Braziller of The New York Post. The Knicks had just been defeated by Milwaukee on Saturday. “[It meant] a lot, just because obviously we struggled against this team throughout this year, so the fact that we came up with a win today, it’s special,” said Jalen Brunson, who scored a game-high 38 points. “I liked the way we had a lead and no matter how much they cut the lead down we stayed poised and figured out a way to keep it.”
  • Brunson’s performance today was a reminder of his “elite ability,” according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who takes a look at the connection between Brunson and Adrian Griffin. The Bucks head coach played with Brunson’s father Rick in the CBA and coached with the elder Brunson in Chicago. “He’s tough because he has all the nuances,” Griffin said of Jalen. “He knows how to draw fouls. He can shoot the 3 off the dribble. He has a pull-up off the bounce, and then he can finish at the rim. He’s a very high IQ player.”
  • According to Ian Begley of, “some prominent members” of the Knicks view Hawks guard Dejounte Murray as an “ideal trade target.” However, there’s a significant hurdle to a deal coming together: Murray’s agent is Klutch Sports Group’s Rich Paul, who is “reluctant to do business” with New York. As Begley writes, Paul would help facilitate a move if Murray specifically asked to be traded to the Knicks, but otherwise prefers not to deal with them. That could change if the Knicks agree to an in-person meeting with Paul to work out their differences, Begley reports.

Draymond Green’s Suspension Likely To Last 11-13 Games

Among those involved in Draymond Green‘s return-to-play process, there’s a “general belief” that his indefinite suspension will end up covering about 11 to 13 games, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Warriors forward has missed six games since the NBA announced he would be sidelined indefinitely — today’s contest in Denver will be the seventh. The 11th game of his suspension would be on January 4 (vs. Denver), while the 13th would be on Jan. 7 (vs. Toronto).

As Wojnarowski outlines, Green is getting individual counseling sessions during his absence and is also taking part in periodic virtual meetings with officials from the Warriors, the league, and the National Basketball Players Association. Those Zoom meetings are aimed at charting his progress toward reinstatement and are playing in a role in how the NBA and NBPA evaluate Green’s progress working through “whatever issues might have contributed to repeated violent episodes,” Wojnarowski writes.

Green’s agent Rich Paul, Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Golden State trainer Rick Celebrini are among those who have participated in the ongoing sessions, sources tell ESPN. Wojnarowski adds that Green has been described as “open and engaged” during the meetings.

While the Warriors and the players’ union were involved in designing the terms of Green’s suspension and the conditions for his return, the NBA will ultimately have the final say on when he’s reinstated, according to Wojnarowski.

Woj adds that even though Green is permitted to condition and practice with the Warriors, he likely won’t return to the team’s facility on a regular basis until early January.

The Warriors have played well as of late without their former Defensive Player of the Year and will put a five-game winning streak on the line this afternoon against the defending-champion Nuggets.

Latest On Draymond Green

The players union wouldn’t have been on board with an indefinite suspension for Draymond Green if he wasn’t willing to accept it himself, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on a SportsCenter appearance (video link).

Green and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, will meet today with Warriors general manager Mike Dunlevy Jr. to determine what kind of help Green will need to deal with the issues that are leading to his repeated suspensions, and sources tell Wojnarowski that Green has a desire to get counseling.

“I’m told he wants to get help to keep this from happening again,” Wojnarowski said, “to handle whatever issues he might have and whatever challenges he might have in his life.”

Woj adds that by making the suspension indefinite, commissioner Adam Silver is “trying to get to the root of the problem” rather than placing a number of games on Green’s latest act, which involved striking Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic in the head in Tuesday’s game. Sources tell Wojnarowski that Green is looking to deal with the underlying causes of his behavior, maybe for the first time in his career.

There’s more on the Green suspension:

  • The NBA office is sending a message to the Warriors that it’s tired of dealing with Green’s frequent transgressions and their effect on the league’s image, according to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. Kawakami points out that Green has already missed five games this season due to suspension and has been ejected from three others. If his current ban lasts for 10 games, he will have been either suspended or ejected from 18 of the team’s first 33 contests. He’s also just two more flagrant fouls away from another automatic one-game suspension. Green seems incapable of controlling his behavior, adds Kawakami, who speculates that the league’s response to a future incident would be “swift and thunderous” and may result in a suspension for the remainder of the season. If that happens, Kawakami notes that the Warriors’ could either try to get out of the remainder of the four-year, $100MM contract that Green signed this summer, trade him for little or nothing in return, or release him and take the financial hit.
  • Green’s latest incident could spark much-needed roster changes, suggests Sam Amick of The Athletic. The Warriors have lost 12 of their last 17 games and aren’t doing enough to justify a payroll that hovers around $400MM with luxury taxes. With Green unable to stay on the court and Klay Thompson‘s dramatic drop in production ahead of free agency, Amick sees a reduced chance that they and Stephen Curry will all get to retire with Golden State.
  • Green’s suspension will result in a financial benefit for the Warriors because it was imposed by the league instead of the team. Scott Allen of Spotrac looks at how much the organization might save depending on how long Green is out of action.

LaVine’s Reps Don’t Want Him Traded To Knicks

Zach LaVine‘s representative oppose a potential trade to the Knicks, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports.

The Bulls’ star swingman is represented by superagent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, while the Knicks have a reputation of favoring clients of CAA, the agency that employed Leon Rose before he took over as New York’s president of basketball operations.

Paul has told confidants for over a year he prefers not to have a client play for the Knicks, according to former Knicks beat reporter Marc Berman (Twitter link). Cam Reddish‘s stint with the Knicks didn’t help matters, as he’s also represented by Klutch Sports. The frosty relationship between Rose and Paul developed during the LeBron James saga — Rose was James’ agent before switching to Klutch.

New York, which didn’t have a first-round pick in Thursday’s draft, has reportedly been seeking ways to acquire another star. LaVine would certainly upgrade their offense — he averaged 24.8 points and 4.2 assists. However, he also brings a huge long-term salary concern for would-be trade partners. He’s entering the second year of his five-year, $215,159,700 contract.

The Knicks can put together an impressive package of picks and young players if the right deal comes along. They were reportedly involved in negotiations with the Wizards for Bradley Beal. A source told Bondy that the Knicks were not having ongoing discussions with the Clippers regarding a potential trade for Paul George. The Knicks reportedly had interest in George, then reconsidered given his age and injury history.

Northwest Notes: Caldwell-Pope, Nuggets, Jazz, Ayton

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope credits superagent Rich Paul for engineering the trade that brought him to Denver. The Nuggets acquired the sharpshooting guard from the Wizards, giving Caldwell-Pope — who won it all with the Lakers three years ago — another shot at a title, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes.

“It was a breath of fresh air,” he said. “I got a chance to compete for a championship again. Just knowing this team from playing them, I knew what we had and what I was coming into.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets held training camp in San Diego last fall and look back at those days as their beginning of their championship run. They forged chemistry during those days, leading to trust and unselfishness on the court, according to Harrison Wind of “I could tell from Day 1 of training camp in San Diego that this group was going to be special,” coach Michael Malone said.
  • Illinois State wing Seneca Knight and North Carolina State guard Jarkel Joiner are among the prospects who will work out for the Jazz on Thursday, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Knight averaged 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds last season, while Joiner averaged 17.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.
  • The Suns may look to deal center Deandre Ayton and the Jazz have been mentioned as a potential landing spot. With Walker Kessler entering his second season after a strong rookie campaign, Walden explains in a separate Salt Lake Tribune story why there’s no reason for Utah to expend draft capital on Ayton.