Agents Rumors

Jim Tanner (NBA agent): When I first started doing this, I saw a wave of consolidations so smaller agencies joined into bigger agencies. Then, you saw it go back the other way where it was more about the boutique agencies. That’s been a bit of a pendulum. But what I’ve seen the most, as highlighted by what was happening with the FBI recently, is more stories about decisions based on illegal practices that include illegal payments to players or family members or AAU coaches. That has dominated a lot of the most recent agency selections. But that’s not a victimless crime. The players sometimes have no idea that money is exchanging hands and that player can never be certain of the motives of an agent or how hard that agent is going to fight for them or how loyal that agent is going to be to them.
Some may say players should be paid anyways and argue that they’re giving them the money they deserve. What are your thoughts on this? Jim Tanner: When players don’t know someone around them is being paid on their behalf, there is a huge gap in trust. This can extend deeper into other decisions that impact the player. And if you’re being represented by an agent who paid an influencer of yours – whether or not you were informed – who is the agent really working for? As soon as those unethical behaviors begin, the agent/player relationship is tainted and as a result, I don’t think a player can ever be sure the agent is 100 percent working toward what’s best for the client.
Do you have predictions for changes that you think will come from the FBI investigation? Jim Tanner: The whole system needs scrutiny. I see a potential for the agent industry to be disrupted. I hope people change their way of doing things. I hope players and families reset how they select agents and go more towards selecting on the merits of the agent to identify the best, most qualified agent for that particular player. I’d like to see more college coaches get involved. When I first started, they would have someone from the business school and the law school participate with the players. I’d like to see more schools go back to that and have more of the compliance office involved in the selection process. The biggest mistake programs can make is to keep all agents away. I think the best way to address it is to invite agents in at certain times and bring everything into the light.