Shortly after winning a championship, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James probably wasn’t expecting to have his agent come under fire. Rich Paul owns Klutch Sports which represents a number of NBA superstars, such as LeBron, Anthony Davis and Ben Simmons. However, there is a belief that LeBron is actually running the show.
Ben Standig and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic were surveying agents to figure out who the best NBA player of all-time is but one anonymous agent had a different idea. He used the platform to rip into LeBron and Paul over the way they are managing Klutch Sports:
The worst thing that LeBron is doing is forcing this power with Rich Paul and what that is, in terms of, he’s a player, but he has prowess in the media space. His company Spring Hill, that’s awesome. Doing the movies and all of the projects. That’s so commendable. I love that. But now that they’ve jumped into the agent game, which the reality is, it’s illegal for a player, particularly if you’re in the state of California, to be licensed to represent talent.
Now I know it’s this façade that it’s Rich Paul, but it’s really LeBron who recruits for Rich Paul. So it’s almost like they’re trying to control AAU at the NBA level. This is my AAU team and they’ve carried that to the highest level. And because of his power and his prowess, people, the young players are seduced by LeBron James in the same way people were seduced by Michael Jordan with David Falk. He went from having Michael Jordan and a few other players, to getting the top players in the NBA, because of the Jordan factor. Rob Pelinka had tremendous success as an independent agent because he had Kobe Bryant and the players idolized him. So, the fact that LeBron recruits and has empowered Rich Paul, and I get it, on the top guys, but if someone does their research, a lot of these guys have really gotten screwed, a large number of them, by mismanagement.
The agent went on to say that the player’s union should be taking responsibility for this and that Klutch Sports has caused “at least five or six casualties.” There’s no proof that LeBron is actually running the agency with Paul and as the agent said, it would be illegal in California.
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Klutch Sports Leveraging Kentavious Caldwell-Pope?
According to this agent, LeBron could even be taking advantage of one of his teammates. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a client of Klutch Sports and the agent suggested he’s lost millions of dollars.
“They’ve been able to leverage KCP, two or three years in a row because they have the power and they’re forcing it down their throat,” the agent said. “Nerlens Noel. There are four or five of them that have suffered millions of dollars from mismanagement but nobody has the courage to support it, because all the media wants access to LeBron. They want access to AD.”
Those are some pretty blistering accusations. It’s unclear how exactly Klutch Sports is allegedly costing players like Caldwell-Pope millions of dollars. The rumor is that he’s opting out of his contract this offseason so it’ll be very interesting to see how this all plays out.
Klutch Sports Has No Accountability, Says Agent
The agent then turned his sites on Paul and believes that the union needs to step in and do something:
That’s the only disappointment is LeBron has leveraged his popularity with young players for seducing them for Klutch and it’s not serving all the players well. But for the players that are suffering, there’s no repercussions. Nobody is criticizing what they’re doing. And you have to call out the union. They should be meeting with Rich Paul, saying, ‘What happened here? What happened here? They represent all the players. They all pay the same amount for dues. If Rich Paul were a lawyer, he’d be disbarred five times. But because LeBron is so powerful, there is no accountability. And that’s the only bad part with LeBron. Everything else is great. It’s commendable. It’s progressive. I love it. The part that he’s pushed Rich Paul in this position and these naïve basketball players, that’s pretty egregiously irresponsible.
There’s no doubt that LeBron holds a lot of influence, especially over young players. However, these accusations should be taken with a large grain of salt. These comments are coming from an agent who is obviously competing for clients with Klutch Sports. Paul has been able to snag some of the top players in the NBA and now represents three reigning NBA champions.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any validity to what the agent has to say but it’s certainly interesting that these criticisms would be coming out now.