Rich Paul

And-Ones: Klutch Sports, Singleton, Adrien

Klutch Sports, the player agency led by Rich Paul, is expanding its reach to the NFL, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). The agency, which represents LeBron James and Ben Simmons among other notable NBA players, is in talks with Damarius Bilbo to lead its football division.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Former NBA big man Chris Singleton has signed with Turkish team Anadolu Efes Istanbul, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The power forward was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2011 draft (Wizards), but hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2013/14 season.
  • Hamed Haddadi, who previously played for the Grizzlies and Suns, has agreed to return to the Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association, Carchia relays in a separate piece. The 7’2″ center averaged a double-double for Iran during the FIBA World Cup.
  • Jeff Adrien will play in Israel again this season after inking a deal with Ironi Nahariya, David Pick tweets. The forward last played in the NBA for the Timberwolves during the 2014/15 season.

NCAA Adjusts Agent Certification Requirements

Having faced criticism over the last week due to its newly-announced regulations for agents who represent prospects testing the draft waters, the NCAA has amended those requirements, according to a press release.

According to the NCAA, a prospect exploring his draft options can now be represented by an agent without a bachelor’s degree — the agent simply must be certified and in good standing with the National Basketball Players Association.

The NCAA’s announcement comes just hours after NBA super-agent Rich Paul published an op-ed in The Athletic explaining why he opposed what had become colloquially known as the “Rich Paul Rule.” Paul, who doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree, said in his Athletic column that the new requirements would have had “no impact” on him or Klutch Sports but that the “harmful consequences of [the] decision [would] ricochet onto others who are trying to break in.”

Paul wrote that he’s not opposed to the idea that would-be agents should have three years of experience before representing an NCAA player who is testing the draft market, and he doesn’t think it’s a bad idea to have agents pass an exam. However, he’s against the idea of requiring a four-year degree, since that’s not financially feasible for everyone with aspirations of breaking into athlete representation.

According to the NCAA’s new announcement, players testing the draft waters can be represented by agents who meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree and/or are currently certified and in good standing with the NBPA.
  • Have NBPA certification for a minimum of three consecutive years.
  • Maintain professional liability insurance.
  • Complete the NCAA qualification exam.
  • Pay the required fees.

Rich Paul Responds To NCAA’s “Rich Paul Rule”

When the NCAA announced last Tuesday that it was instituting new guidelines and criteria for the agents who are permitted to represent prospects testing the draft waters, multiple players dubbed it the “Rich Paul Rule.” Among the NCAA’s new rules? Agents representing players who test the draft waters must hold a bachelor’s degree.

[UPDATE: NCAA Adjusts Agent Certification Requirements]

In an op-ed today for The Athletic, Paul responded to the NCAA’s announcement, weighing in with his thoughts on the changes. The subscription site opened up Paul’s column to all readers, and it’s worth checking out in full.

According to Paul, it’s not accurate to refer to the new agent criteria as the Rich Paul Rule: “It has no impact on me or the business of Klutch Sports Group.” However, Paul adamantly opposes the changes and believes the NCAA should be called out for them.

“The harmful consequences of this decision will ricochet onto others who are trying to break in,” Paul wrote. “NCAA executives are once again preventing young people from less prestigious backgrounds, and often people of color, from working in the system they continue to control. In this case, the people being locked out are kids who aspire to be an agent and work in the NBA and do not have the resources, opportunity, or desire to get a four-year degree.”

Paul added that he’s not opposed to the idea that would-be agents should have three years of experience before representing an NCAA player who is testing the draft market, and he doesn’t think it’s a bad idea to have agents pass an exam. However, he’s against the idea of requiring a four-year degree, since that’s not financially feasible for everyone with aspirations of breaking into athlete representation.

“Does anyone really believe a four-year degree is what separates an ethical person from a con artist?” Paul asked hypothetically.

Paul, who represents LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and many other NBA players, suggests that the NCAA should work with established agents to help mentor aspiring agents, or partner with universities on “a one-year program for agents who don’t meet their requirements but want to learn the business.” His full op-ed can be read here.

And-Ones: Team USA, Beasley, Draft Picks, NCAA

While some NBA players have considered the matter, Paul George‘s gruesome leg injury suffered during a Team USA scrimmage in the summer of 2014 hasn’t necessarily impacted every player’s decision on playing in the FIBA World Cup next month, Marc Stein of the New York Times writes.

George, who was stretchered off the court after fracturing his tibia and fibula, was coming off a career season with averages of 21.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest at the time. Many wondered if George would ever be the same due to the injury, but he worked vigorously to get his body back to shape and eventually became an even better all-around player.

“I appreciate the guys who still come out here and do this, because a lot of people would say, ‘If something like that could happen, why would you come out here and risk it?’ But I was talking with Coach Malone and he said, ‘You guys are in the gym playing anyway.’ If you’re playing basketball, you’re playing basketball,” Nuggets center Mason Plumlee said, as relayed by Stein.

While Plumlee has opted to keep his name in team consideration for next month, several stars such as Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Kevin Love and others have already withdrawn from competition to focus on the upcoming NBA season.

The 2019 FIBA World Cup begins on Saturday, Aug. 31, with Team USA scheduled to play its first game against the Czech Republic on Sunday, Sept. 1.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world tonight:

  • Michael Beasley‘s five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy stems from a failed drug test last fall, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Beasley failed the test around the same time his mom was dying of cancer, Charania notes.
  • Seth Partnow of The Athletic examines why NBA teams aren’t hoarding first-round draft picks as frequently as they have in the past. Of the 30 first-round picks in June’s NBA draft, 11 of them changed teams either around or on the night of the event.
  • Michael McCann of Sports Illustated explored how NBA power agent Rich Paul could build a case against the NCAA for changing its criteria for agents who wish to represent collegiate players. The NCAA is expected to enforce that certified agents have a bachelor’s degree, be certified by the NBPA for at least three years and pass an in-person exam at the organization’s headquarters, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

And-Ones: Dolan, Klutch Sports, Larkin, M. Williams

Knicks owner James Dolan continues to stand in the way of a new arena for the Clippers, even though he seems to know few details about the lawsuits he’s involved with, according to Stefan Bondy and Nancy Dillon of The New York Daily News. Dolan has filed several suits to protect his interests in the Forum, the authors allege, citing his testimony in a deposition in which he admits he doesn’t have much knowledge about the City of Inglewood, the contractual issues involved with the proposed arena or the mayoral candidate he supported in an effort to block the project.

The story states that Dolan made two attempts to convince Lakers owner Jeanie Buss to move her team to Inglewood, that he wasn’t aware Inglewood loaned his MSG company $18MM to buy the Forum or that his company was funding lawsuits that a community group has been filing against Inglewood. NBA commisioner Adam Silver tried to work out a compromise between Dolan and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, but Dolan allegedly refused.

MSG responded with a statement disputing the article and claiming it’s the latest example of “egregious, personal attacks” by The Daily News. “The fact is, there is widespread concern across the Inglewood community about the proposed Clippers arena – with thousands of Inglewood residents actively voicing their opposition since the day the project was announced,” the statement reads. “Residents have raised several, serious concerns – about the project’s ‘backroom’ dealings, its devastating environmental impacts, and the way it would overwhelm the surrounding neighborhood with traffic and force out residents.”

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • United Talent Agency will make a “significant” financial investment in Klutch Sports Group and will appoint agent Rich Paul as the head of UTA’s new sports division, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Paul, who represents some of the NBA’s top stars, including LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Ben Simmons, will branch out to the NFL and Major League Baseball as well, armed with a long list of Hollywood contacts and major brand labels that will allow him to provide athletes with career options once their playing days are over.
  • Shane Larkin, who last played in the NBA with the Celtics during the 2017/18 season, is negotiating a two-year deal to return to Anadolu Efes Istanbul, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Larkin, the MVP of the EuroLeague Finals, will reportedly have an NBA out after the first year of his new contract.
  • Former Heat guard Matt Williams has signed with Donar in the Netherlands, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. Williams attended a free agent mini-camp with the Pistons last month.

Knicks Notes: Morris, Bullock, Vonleh

After officially announcing their deals with Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock today, the Knicks appear to be just about done with free agency. Damyean Dotson‘s salary for 2019/20 became fully guaranteed because he remained on the roster through Monday, so New York is now carrying 15 players on guaranteed deals. The team has also exhausted its cap room and appears to have used a portion of the room exception to sign Bullock.

Here are a few Knicks-related notes on Morris, Bullock, and more:

  • Morris’ agent Rich Paul wasn’t directly involved in his client breaking his verbal agreement with the Spurs, and preferred that Morris stick to that agreement, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, Morris and the Knicks worked together to strike a deal. As for Morris and Paul, they’re reportedly parting ways after the forward’s tumultuous free agency.
  • A source tells Berman that Bullock is out “indefinitely” and isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports that Bullock will likely miss at least a month of the season. The details on the veteran guard’s health issue remain a mystery, but that issue helped scuttle the initial two-year deal between the two sides — that $21MM agreement would have been worth more than double the value of their new contract.
  • The Knicks’ goal is to win – not tank – in 2019/20, according to Berman, who speculates that Morris and Julius Randle may end up being the team’s starting forward tandem, with 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox moving to the bench.
  • After leaving the Knicks for the Timberwolves in free agency, Noah Vonleh told Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic that he had a “great” time in New York last season. “It was a great opportunity,” Vonleh said. “They gave me some playing time, let me be the 4-man, just grow as a player and change the narrative that was on me that was in the league and gave myself another a chance to give myself a new life in the league.”

NBA Executives Want Shorter Moratorium

Marcus Morrisdecision to join the Knicks after agreeing to an offer from the Spurs will add momentum to a push to shorten the summer moratorium, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Morris accepted a two-year, $20MM offer from San Antonio on July 6, but changed his mind a few days later when the Knicks agreed to give him $15MM for one season. New York had unexpected money available after renegotiating its deal with Reggie Bullock over health issues.

Bontemps points out that similar concerns arose last summer when Nemanja Bjelica and Yogi Ferrell backed out of respective deals with the Sixers and Mavericks when they got better offers from the Kings.

Although executives that Bontemps spoke to at the Summer League were split in their opinions on these decisions, they are united in their dislike of the six-day moratorium, with one telling him, “It’s just too long.”

In the wake of his free agent odyssey, Morris has decided to change agents, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Morris has parted ways with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who is arguably the league’s most powerful agent and helped steer Anthony Davis to the Lakers. A source tells Bondy that Morris refused a three-year, $41MM offer from the Clippers before agreeing to the deals with the Spurs and then the Knicks.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Crabbe, Clarkson, Sixers

The Celtics have reached an agreement to add another new assistant coach to Brad Stevens‘ staff, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that the team is bringing aboard Kara Lawson. A former WNBA and Olympic champion, Lawson has worked as a TV analyst for the Wizards for the last three years.

According to Wojnarowski, Lawson had talked to multiple NBA teams in recent years about possible coaching roles, but was convinced to accept an offer from the Celtics based on the opportunity to work with Stevens.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Allen Crabbe, who will be a member of the Hawks once their trade with Brooklyn becomes official in July, was arrested in Los Angeles on a DUI charge on Wednesday, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Since the trade hasn’t technically been finalized, the Hawks can’t yet comment on Crabbe’s arrest.
  • Jordan Clarkson has hired a new agent, becoming the latest member of the Cavaliers to sign with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports for representation, reports Joe Vardon of The Athletic (via Twitter). Klutch also reps Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, and Darius Garland.
  • The Sixers officially announced in a press release that they’ve hired Ime Udoka and Joseph Blair as assistant coaches. The hiring of Udoka, who comes over from San Antonio, was reported during the first week of June.
  • Revisiting the circumstances surrounding the KnicksKristaps Porzingis trade, Sam Amick of The Athletic writes that Porzingis threatened to return to Spain to rehab his ACL injury if New York didn’t move him. A source tells Amick that Porzingis was aware he’d be fined if he made that decision without the team’s permission, but was ready to deal with the consequences.

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The rest of the Pelicans’ haul includes a 9-30 protected first-rounder in 2021, which becomes unprotected in 2022, and an unprotected first-rounder in 2024.

New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).

[UPDATE: Davis trade will become a three-team deal]

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rich Paul Talks Anthony Davis, Lakers, Celtics

Anthony Davis‘ agent, Rich Paul, took a good deal of criticism earlier this year when he went public with his client’s trade request just 10 days before the 2019 deadline, seemingly pressuring the Pelicans to get a deal done with the Lakers and indirectly derailing both teams’ seasons in the process.

However, Paul tells S.L. Price of Sports Illustrated that he feels as if going public with Davis’ trade request was his only option. As Paul explains, he told Pelicans GM Dell Demps of AD’s desire to be moved, and Demps – who said he’d talk to team owner Gayle Benson and get back to Paul – instead tried to contact Davis directly and didn’t get back in touch with his agent.

“It was necessary to go public,” Paul told Price. “When I told you, ‘Here’s our intentions,’ and you say, ‘Hey, let me talk to ownership,’ and instead of you talking to ownership you call Anthony Davis? That’s called being ignored. … [Trying to get between a player and his agent] is a no-no. Every GM knows that.”

Price’s feature on Paul includes several other interesting tidbits, including one source telling SI that the agent approached at least one NBA coach to gauge his interest in an assistant role on Frank Vogel‘s staff — both Paul and the Lakers denied that happened.

Here are some more of Paul’s most noteworthy comments from the story, which is worth checking out in full:

On why the Lakers would be a good landing spot for Anthony Davis, with or without fellow Paul client LeBron James on their roster:

“My thing is: Take LeBron off the Lakers. Are the Lakers not a great destination for an arguably top-two player that went to Kentucky and won a national championship, signed with Nike? For a team that’s had centers from George Mikan to Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaq? So now, when you add LeBron, that’s what? The cherry on top. LeBron’s 34 years old. Anthony Davis is 26. So when LeBron’s done playing, the Anthony Davis trade is still rolling. What better place to do it than L.A.?

“I’m trying to help Anthony Davis. Now, if helping Anthony Davis helps LeBron in the long run? So be it. But my goal is Anthony Davis.”

On why the Knicks would also be an appealing destination for Davis:

“The only difference is, they don’t have as many championships as the Lakers. They got a tradition. It’s a big market—not that it’s only big markets. They have cap space, flexibility, they’re able to absorb more than one star. What’s wrong with that?”

On the idea of the Celtics trading for Davis:

“They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year. I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020. I’ve stated that to them. But in the event that he decides to walk away and you give away assets? Don’t blame Rich Paul.”

On Davis’ plans to test free agency in 2020:

“Where he’s going to land? I have no idea. And it don’t matter. We’re going into free agency. Why does it matter to me where he goes? Earth: We’re going into free agency. He has a year, he has to play. But after that, I can’t say it no bigger: WE ARE GOING INTO FREE AGENCY. 2020: ANTHONY DAVIS WILL BE IN FREE AGENCY.”

(Note: The team that holds Davis’ Bird rights when he enters free agency in 2020 will be able to offer him more years and more money than any other team.)