NBA Agent Calls out LeBron James, Rich Paul's Handling of Klutch Sports Athletes

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) looks on during the first half in Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

LeBron James proved once again he is an all-time great on the court while winning his fourth NBA title this season, but his work with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports has reportedly created problems for other athletes.

Fellow NBA agents spoke anonymously about Klutch Sports to Ben Standig and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, with one saying what Klutch is doing is "illegal" and there are "massive casualties" among players.

"I know it's this facade that it's Rich Paul, but it's really LeBron who recruits for Rich Paul," the agent said. "So it's almost like they're trying to control AAU at the NBA level."

Paul has been LeBron's agent and business partner, but Klutch Sports made headlines after signing Anthony Davis when he was still on the New Orleans Pelicans in 2018. He soon forced his way out of New Orleans and was traded to the Lakers, teaming with LeBron to win the 2020 NBA title.

While this has raised question marks about tampering, there are even more issues regarding the treatment of other athletes represented by Paul.

The agent explained some of the issues:

"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."

The agent specifically noted the deals that were lost because Paul wasn't focused on his other clients.

"Ben Simmons. [Darius] Garland. I know this as an agent, you can't service them all at this level," the agent added. "You can seduce them, but you can’t service them all, at that level with what they say they're doing. Nerlens Noel. Norris Cole. Shabazz Muhammed. They lost $80 million in Detroit. This is real talk."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was also mentioned as someone who was leveraged by Klutch Sports, although he was a valuable part of the Lakers' championship run. 

Paul has a deep list of clients with several notable stars, including Simmons, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Draymond Green.