Rich Paul

Heat Notes: Waiters, Paul, Olynyk

Dion Waiters is in the midst of a 10-game suspension for the Heat and there have been conflicting reports on what the team wants to do with the shooting guard once he returns from his time away. Some writers have speculated that Waiters has played his last game with the club while Shams Charania indicated that the team is going to welcome him back.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that the door is open for a return, but it would take a lot for Waiters to earn the trust of the franchise again. Waiters would need to do “absolutely everything right” for Miami to consider playing him again, Jackson writes, adding the caveat that an injury in the team’s backcourt may make the club soften its stance.

The Heat have yet to come to a consensus within the organization on how they are going to operate when Waiters does return. A buyout is possible but unlikely; an outright release is even more unlikely given Miami’s hard cap issues; a trade may take some hard selling to another NBA club.

Waiters’ suspension will end after the team’s Nov. 29 game vs. the Warriors. Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Agent Rich Paul could be the X-factor in what happens with Waiters’ future. Paul represents the shooting guard, as Jackson adds in the same piece, and it’s possible that the agent will use his influence to challenge an unfavorable decision the Heat make.
  • Coach Erik Spoelstra is thrilled with the team’s big man rotation, particularly Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard, which give the Heat two bigs who can stretch the floor.“You want to be able to exploit opponent defenses, and we have two seven-footers who can stretch the floor,” Spoelstra said (via Jackson in the same piece). “It opens up the floor to attackers and for the pick-and-roll game. They each have a different way of getting to their strengths. Meyers is such a great screener, gets guys open. KO has some playmaking ability as well that can put unique pressure on a defense.”
  • Kendrick Nunn has been getting feedback from Dwyane Wade on his game and the rookie is soaking up the information, as Jackson relays.“He told me he’s happy for me, to continue to develop and learn, be a sponge, just learn as much as I can,” Nunn said. “It was definitely meaningful coming from him, someone who has been in this organization and left their legacy here and created a culture, has been part of a culture and championship for years. It was definitely big coming from him. I’ve been watching him since I can remember. Years going back, he was one of my favorite players for sure.”

Marcus, Markieff Morris Sign With Roc Nation Sports

Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris have new representation, according a tweet from Roc Nation Sports welcoming both players to the agency.

The Morris twins were previously represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, but Paul and Marcus parted ways this summer after Marcus reneged on a contract agreement with the Spurs and opted to sign with the Knicks instead. Paul reportedly urged Marcus not to back out of that tentative deal with San Antonio.

Markieff, who signed with the Pistons this summer, didn’t have as tumultuous a free agency experience as his brother, but it’s not surprising that he has elected to move on from Paul as well. The Morris twins have often operated as a unit throughout their NBA careers, having initially signed with Klutch Sports together during the summer of 2018.

Both brothers could be back on the free agent market next summer. Marcus’ $15MM deal with New York is just a one-year pact, so he’ll definitely become an unrestricted free agent. Markieff’s future is less certain, since his Pistons contract features a second-year player option worth $3.36MM. He could turn it down to reach the open market, or opt in and remain with Detroit.

Jusuf Nurkic Signing With Rich Paul, Klutch Sports

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is hiring new representation, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who reports (via Twitter) that Nurkic will sign with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Nurkic was previously repped by Aylton Tesch of Dynasty Sports.

Nurkic is only in the second season of his current four-year contract, which expires after the 2021/22 season. However, he’ll become eligible for a contract extension on July 6, 2020, two years after he signed that deal. It’s not clear whether the big man will be seeking an extension immediately upon becoming eligible, but making his agent change now could help prepare him for those negotiations.

Despite the fact that Nurkic remains under contract for multiple seasons, it makes some sense that he’s making a change. The four-year, $48MM deal he signed as a restricted free agent in 2018 with Portland was widely considered a steal for the Blazers.

Before his 2018/19 season ended with a broken leg, Nurkic was making his contract look even more team-friendly by establishing new career highs in PPG (15.6), RPG (10.4), APG (3.2), and several other categories. That leg injury will sideline him for the start of the 2019/20 campaign, but he’s considered likely to return well before the playoffs if he doesn’t experience any setbacks.

Lakers Notes: AD Trade, LeBron, Pelinka, More

When David Griffin arrived in New Orleans as the Pelicans‘ new head of basketball operations, he was faced with a predicament related to Anthony Davis, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Sources confirm to McMenamin that there was some lingering resentment toward the Lakers within the Pelicans’ organization – all the way up to ownership – due to the way AD’s public trade request played out earlier in the year. However, Griffin also recognized that L.A. was the most logical trade partner for New Orleans.

“When I took over, there was some latent discontent, maybe with the way things had been handled,” Griffin said. “We just talked about the fact that, look, in all likelihood the best package is going to come from this team, because it’s the only team that AD’s willing to stay at.”

As McMenamin details, agent Rich Paul had signaled to the Celtics and other suitors that Davis wouldn’t re-sign with them in 2020, since the big man wanted to play in New York or Los Angeles.

“The last thing you want to do is put a GM in a situation where he trades away an asset and then the guy walks out the door,” Paul said. “Like, you can’t do business that way. So it’s not really a hard conversation to have. And I don’t think it stopped [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge from trying. It’s just that maybe he didn’t have the deal [he wanted]. He wasn’t willing to give up the young players, which I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t give them up either if the guy is not going to re-sign.”

The Pelicans’ big win on draft lottery night helped clear a path for the team to work something out with the Lakers for Davis, as Paul observed to McMenamin: “The fact that [the Pelicans] were going to get the first pick caused me to understand that it softened the blow of losing Anthony Davis because the organization could still have some momentum.”

McMenamin’s story at ESPN provides an in-depth look at several other aspects of the Lakers’ pursuit and acquisition of Davis, as well as the franchise’s adjustment to having him on the roster. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said that even on the day the Lakers and Pelicans reached a trade agreement, there were a couple times he was convinced a deal wouldn’t come together. But the front office persevered in part because they believed they owed it to LeBron James. “When a player of LeBron’s stature puts his trust in the organization,” Pelinka said, “I think there’s an implicit bilateral trust going back, saying: ‘We’re going to do everything we can to put you in a position to win more championships, because that’s what you’re about.'”
  • Pelinka, who added that he believes in treating his superstar players “like partners,” admitted that he has probably had hundreds of three-way calls with James and Davis since the trade as he has solicited their opinions on certain roster moves. “Every single decision. I [have] never been involved so much,” Davis said. “No matter who the player was, he wanted to make sure. It was on everything. And it was like, ‘Wow.’ To the point where I was like, ‘All right, Rob, stop calling me.'”
  • Kendrick Perkins, who was teammates with LeBron in Cleveland and AD in New Orleans, had a hand in bringing the two stars together. The veteran big man introduced Davis to Klutch Sports in 2018 when word got out that he was considering an agent change, writes McMenamin.
  • Rich Paul believes that Davis’ ability to make threes and pass the ball separates him from other stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo. AD’s agent offered the following spicy take: “If you put Anthony Davis on that Bucks team last year, they’d be playing in the Finals. He knows how to make guys better. That’s not a knock to Giannis, but that’s just what [I think].”
  • The NBA was willing to allow LeBron to give up his jersey number (23) to Davis despite the paperwork not being filed in time, but Nike nixed the idea, citing tens of millions of dollars in wasted inventory on James jerseys, sources tell McMenamin.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Beasley, Schroder, Scott

Center Hassan Whiteside has never averaged more than one assist in any season but he predicts that will change dramatically in his first season with the Trail Blazers, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports.

“I think I’m going to blossom a lot here,” Whiteside told Quick. “[The Trail Blazers] have so much movement, they have so many different plays and reads, I can probably get a triple-double with assists here. You know, I’ve been getting so many assists and dimes … I’m playing more like a point-center here.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • If the Nuggets don’t sign guard Malik Beasley to an extension, they could move him prior to him becoming a restricted free agent, Mike Singer of the Denver Post speculates. Beasley recently hired Rich Paul to represent him and he views himself as a starter but there’s no spot in the lineup for him, Singer continues. If the Nuggets offer Beasley in the $10-11MM annual range and he turns it down, they could theoretically try to trade him for a first-round pick after giving up next June’s first-rounder for Jerami Grant, Singer adds.
  • With Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the roster, Dennis Schroder‘s playing time would seemingly take a hit. Thunder GM Sam Presti insists that’s not the case, as he detailed to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman“There probably will be some discovery with how we see the team develop over the course of time, and (coach) Billy (Donovan) has got to make sure that the team is growing through the season and not just staying fixated because that’s how we started. And Dennis will be a huge … part of the team. He’s just that talented.”
  • Point guard Mike Scott had reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with the Jazz but he was not listed on the training camp roster that the club released on Friday. Scott, not to be confused with the Sixers forward who shares the same name, has spent the last four seasons overseas after coming out of Idaho in 2015. It’s still possible that Scott could be added, though the Jazz would have to drop someone from the 20-man roster.

Charania’s Latest: Nets, Heat, CP3, Noah, Clippers

Despite the fact that multiple Nets players are reportedly pushing for the team to sign Carmelo Anthony, Brooklyn appears very unlikely to do so at this point, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, the Nets are more likely to fill their 20-man offseason roster they’ve worked out in recent weeks, including perhaps veteran forward Lance Thomas and swingman C.J. Williams. Dante Cunningham and Luol Deng are among the other free agents who have emerged as viable targets for Brooklyn, Charania adds.

With Wilson Chandler facing a 25-game suspension, the Nets could theoretically move on from the former Nugget to open up a spot on their 15-man regular season roster, but they currently have no plans to do so. As Charania points out, keeping Chandler on the suspended list during his 25-game ban will allow the franchise to recoup some of his salary. Plus, team executives believe Chandler would be quickly scooped up by another team if he were released later in the season.

Here are a few more items of interest from Charania’s latest round-up:

  • The Heat still have some level of trade interest in Thunder point guard Chris Paul, according to Charania. Miami is expected to wait to see how the start of the season goes before seriously considering whether to renew its pursuit of CP3, who would reciprocate the Heat’s interest.
  • Free agent big man Joakim Noah intends to join the Clippers for workouts this week, sources tell Charania. Noah’s father first suggested earlier this month that his son would be working out for the Clippers.
  • Nuggets guard Malik Beasley, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension up until October 21, has hired Rich Paul and Lucas Newton of Klutch Sports for representation, says Charania.
  • Although DeMarcus Cousins is only a one-year contract and seems likely to miss the entire 2019/20 season due to his torn ACL, the Lakers aren’t ready to move on from him yet. The Lakers wants to integrate him into the club’s culture, according to Charania, who notes that Cousins is expected to be around the team during its mini-camp in Las Vegas this week.

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.