Nerlens Noel was one of the most highly touted players coming out of college in the 2013 NBA Draft. Coming out of the University of Kentucky, Noel was largely viewed as the next great player to enter the NBA after being under the tutelage of Wildcats head coach John Calipari. Despite tearing his ACL in his lone season at Kentucky Noel was drafted in the lottery with the number six pick by the New Orleans Pelicans. Shortly after being drafted by the Pelicans, Noel was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers where he would spend the five years of his career.
Noel’s career never took off in Philly, and when the Sixers drafted Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor it created a log jam at the center position. In February 2017 the Sixers traded Noel to the Dallas Mavericks where he would average 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 22 games for the Mavericks. After a solid season in Dallas, the Mavericks offered Noel a four-year $70 million contract when he was a restricted free agent in 2017. The Mavericks offering such a lucrative contract to a player who had never even been an All-Star was a shock to many.
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Nerlens Noel Sues Rich Paul for Loss of Wages
As big as a shock as it was that the Mavericks had offered Noel a contract that was so lucrative, what was even more surprising was when Noel declined the offer. According to a report from The Athletic, Noel is seeking to recoup his loss of funds through a lawsuit against the person he feels is the most responsible, super-agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
“New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel has filed a lawsuit against prominent NBA agent Rich Paul, alleging that Paul and Klutch Sports Group breached their duties to Noel and caused him to lose out on approximately $58 million in potential earnings,” the report reads.
Paul of who represents the likes of LeBron James, Trae Young, and Ben Simmons told Noel he could get him a max contract the following summer if he declined the Mavericks offer. Upon hearing Paul’s pitch Noel fired his agent Happy Walters and signed with Klutch Sports that same summer.
“Paul told Noel that if he terminated his relationship with Mr. Walters and signed with him instead, Paul would get him that max deal,” the lawsuit reads. “As part of this, Paul advised Noel that he should cease negotiations with Dallas, accept the single year qualifying offer, and seek a max deal on the free-agent market the following season.”
Rich Paul Ignored Calls About Noel From Other Teams
Noel officially terminated his relationship with Klutch Sports in December 2020. According to the lawsuit the final straw was when he learned that Paul had a history of ignoring clients who weren’t considered ‘marquee’ and thus ended up costing them significant money. The lawsuit states that Noel also became a victim of this after he learned that Paul had ignored calls from the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets who had tried contacting him to inquire about the big man.
“Noel later learned that representatives from the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers were trying to contact Paul, but that Paul was not taking or returning those calls,” the lawsuit states.
“Noel’s frustrations with Paul came to a tilt in December 2020 when he learned that Paul had a history of mismanaging and ignoring other clients and costing them significant money. The belief was that Paul and Klutch Sports were only focused on serving their ‘marquee’ clients and did not have the capacity to provide competent service to other clients such as Noel, or players like Norris Cole or Shabazz Muhammad, as additional examples.”
Noel did eventually get paid after signing a three-year $32 million contract with the Knicks this off-season. However, the chances of him ever seeing the kind of money that the Mavericks offered him in 2017 are very slim.