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Nerlens Noel's $58M Lawsuit Against Former Agent Rich Paul Dismissed by Judge

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 13, 2022

Rich Graessle/Getty Images

District Court Judge Jane J. Boyle has dismissed Nerlens Noel's $58 million lawsuit against his former agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal:

Liz Mullen @SBJLizMullen

Judge dismisses $58M lawsuit Nerlens Noel filed versus former agent Rich Paul last year. <br><br>Judge sends dispute to NBPA arbitration <a href="https://t.co/itfk01ZQ4y">pic.twitter.com/itfk01ZQ4y</a>

The Detroit Pistons center filed the lawsuit in Nov. 2021, accusing Paul of doing "little to no work" in securing market-value contracts, endorsement deals and other financial considerations for Noel.

While the case was dismissed, Judge Boyle did recommend the situation be addressed within the NBPA's arbitration system. She noted that "each claim boils down to Noelโ€™s general complaint that Paul and [Klutch] breached obligations or duties owed to Noel as a result of the player-agent relationship that was created by the SPAC [Standard Player Agent Contract]."

And the SPAC states that "any and all disputes between the Player and the Agent involving the meaning, interpretation, application, or enforcement of this Agreement or the obligations of the parties under this Agreement shall be resolved exclusively through the Arbitration procedure set forth in Section 5 of the NBPA Regulations Governing Player Agents."

Noel said in his lawsuit that he turned down a four-year, $70 million contract extension from the Dallas Mavericks in 2017 at the behest of Paul, who was recruiting him to be represented by Klutch Sports.

At the time, Noel was represented by Happy Walters.

"Paul told Noel that if he terminated his relationship with Mr. Walters and signed with him instead, Paul would get him that 'max deal.' 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," the lawsuit stated.

But no max deal came, and Noel instead signed a one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer with the Mavericks in Aug. 2017.

In 2018, he signed a two-year. $3.75 million deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder that included a player option for the second year, which he declined ahead of the 2019-20 season. He instead signed a one-year, $1.9 million deal to return to OKC.

Ahead of the 2020-21 season, he signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the New York Knicks, and re-signed with New York on a three-year, $27 million deal the following offseason. The Knicks traded him to Detroit in July.

During that series of one-year deals, Noel accused Paul in his lawsuit of failing to take calls from a number of teams who showed interest in signing him, including the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019 and the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers in 2020.

In the four seasons after Noel turned down the Mavericks' $70 million extension, he made $12.7 million, an overall loss of $57.3 million. Hence, the $58 million in damages he was seeking, along with seeking "a declaratory judgment and monetary damages from Paul and Klutch Sports 'in an amount to be proven at trial,'" per The Athletic.

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