WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: NBA players LeBron James and Chris Paul play tennis with Victoria Justice (center) during Nickelodeon celebrates largest ever Worldwide Day of Play at the Ellipse on September 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)
News broke Wednesday that LeBron James was switching agents, leaving the powerful Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and superagent Leon Rose. Instead, James will be represented by his childhood friend Rich Paul, a member of the marketing firm that has represented James for years. Paul has been a top agent at CAA in his own right but will form his own agency, Klutch Sports Management, as part of this move.
What does all of this mean? I really couldn't say. Tom Ziller has his take on it, Eric Freeman as well. Agents are an undeniable force in NBA basketball, but one I personally do not understand well. For an example of the way in which agents can shape the NBA landscape, look to the role Rose and CAA played in the free agency process that eventually brought James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (all Rose/CAA clients at the time) together in Miami.
And there are some interesting Clipper connections here as well. Chris Paul is another Rose/CAA client, and is said to be close to Rich Paul (no relation). Neil Olshey, when recounting the process that eventually brought CP3 to the Clippers, references the process of presenting to Rose in 2010 when James was a free agent as a vital first step, the Clippers demonstrating to Rose and CAA that they were serious about playing with the big boys. Chris Paul will of course be a free agent this summer -- is it possible he could follow his friend James to Klutch?
In addition to CP3, one of Rich Paul's clients at CAA is Eric Bledsoe, who will be a Clippers restricted free agent in 2014. It's unclear at this point whether Bledsoe will follow his agent to Klutch, but it's obviously a strong possibility.
The fact is that there are only three (maybe four if you include DeAndre Jordan) current Clippers who project as important to the team a couple of seasons hence -- and Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe are two of them. Each is coming up on free agency in the next two years, and each is connected to CAA and Rich Paul at some level.
What does all of this mean? I have no clue to be honest. Does it make it more likely Paul will re-sign with the Clippers? Less likely? No change? I don't know. Connecting some dots, might it position the Clippers to recruit some other Rich Paul clients down the road?
That's a big leap, but we can safely say that the big agents and agencies wield power in the NBA and teams want to remain in their good graces. No team wants to get Falked. We may not know what all this means, but one thing is clear -- by becoming LeBron James' agent, Rich Paul and Klutch Management just entered the upper echelon of agents and agencies, and through Eric Bledsoe and possibly Chris Paul the Clippers will be dealing with Rich Paul on some level. How it will affect the future of the team is anyone's guess.