Rich Paul Rumors
The Cavaliers coaches, front office and players love Tristan Thompson because he’s one of those guys who’s energetic, hustles, rebounds, plays defense and doesn’t need plays called for him. Those guys are valuable. How valuable? Thompson turned down an extension just before this season began. Don’t forget, Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul, is also LeBron James’ agent, and if James wants Thompson on the team, the Cavs will cough up the necessary dollars.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN on SiriusXM NBA Radio: I think he’d still be there. LeBron definitely wanted to play with Kevin Love, but remember, Wiggins was not mentioned in the LeBron letter. And on July 7th, the Cavs felt like, if they signed LeBron, they would just keep Wiggins, that they wouldn’t trade him for Love. If Love really wanted to play in Cleveland, he could’ve come there as a free agent next summer. By July 10th or 11th, once LeBron had gotten there, all of a sudden, Wiggins was in the deal. So, you can draw your own map from there. People can deny it from now until those guys retire, but I know exactly what happened. I saw the roadmap. If Wiggins had signed with LeBron’s agency, then Wiggins would have been in the letter. If Wiggins would have been having a relationship with LeBron in the weeks leading up to the draft, then it would have been a no-brainer.
Longtime NBA agent Mark Termini, renowned as a masterful negotiator, represents Koufos. He is also the senior advisor of negotiations for Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports Group agency. Termini has an excellent relationship with Cavaliers ownership and management.
Most agents and business associates of key Cavaliers players are on full alert to keep clients out of the tentacles of Klutch. The Klutch sales pitch has been predictable: Come with us, get paid with the Cavaliers. As much as anything, James has set up Rich Paul with a sweet gig: Paul doesn’t negotiate the contracts for clients, nor does he do the marketing for LeBron James. Those jobs belong to Mark Termini and the Fenway Sports Group, respectively. Nevertheless, Paul is the personable frontman, the secondary recruiter behind James himself.
On the surface, at least, Knight doesn’t seem the least bit distracted by his contract situation. He insists he’s only concerned about building on last season’s breakout campaign. “That’s for agents to do and for the media to talk about,’’ Knight said about his contract situation. “He (Bledsoe) did his thing this year and his agent (Rich Paul) did a great job of getting him that deal. On the surface, at least, Knight doesn’t seem the least bit distracted by his contract situation. He insists he’s only concerned about building on last season’s breakout campaign. “That’s for agents to do and for the media to talk about,’’ Knight said about his contract situation. “He (Bledsoe) did his thing this year and his agent (Rich Paul) did a great job of getting him that deal.
There was an interesting twist with Cole in the offseason, when he signed on with agent Rich Paul, the same agent who handled LeBron James’ July free-agency departure from the Heat to the Cleveland Cavaliers. “It was a decision me and my support system made,” Cole said of that move to James’ long-time associate. “It was a decision we made and that’s as much as I want to say about it. I felt it was best for me.” Cole, who played at Cleveland State, with Paul’s agency based in Northeast Ohio, said the decision was not influenced by James. “No, I was familiar with him,” he said of Paul. Cole, who is from Dayton, said it was not a means of testing whether he, too, could return to his Ohio roots. “I made the decision based on for me and what I need,” he said, “not based off anybody else. I made a decision based on what I thought and what was best for me.”
You’ll also on occasion find him hanging out and socializing with his clients, something most agents tend to avoid. “Well, that’s what they (agents) choose to do,” he said while shrugging his shoulders. “There’s an age and interest difference for a lot of them. It’s not an agent-player relationship all the time. We’re all young men that are in business together. That’s how it is and it’s unique. At the same time, I understand it, but again, there’s no right or wrong way to represent a client. “I’m 33 years old. If a guy is 24, chances are we listen to the same music and like some of the same clothes. We may do things together and hang out. It’s a false perception of what that relationship should look like. That thinking has been set upon us to create this difference between players so that the player perceives the agent as all business. Other agents have fun, too. Players just aren’t interested in doing the things they do.
The sides went months without speaking. It got ugly. A Phoenix sports-talk-show host wrote an “open letter” to Bledsoe, calling Paul “a joke” and urging Bledsoe to fire him. The pressure was squarely on Paul to produce, given his “unreasonable” demands. That’s not the way Paul saw it. “Pressure is a terminology that doesn’t align with my life,” Paul said. “Where I come from, the pressures are totally different. But I did think it was an important summer. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. It was important for me from a personal standpoint and a company standpoint.”
Paul was hands-on in making sure the events leading up to “Decision 2.0″ were done tastefully and respectfully. James had meetings with only two teams – the Heat and Cavaliers – during the summer. Paul was considerate of not stringing teams along. “I wanted to be respectful of all organizations involved and you can only pick one, but I think it was important for him not to have a play-by-play of what he was doing,” he said.
He wants to make a positive impact in all walks of life and the only way for him to do that is to “keep it 110,” as he says, meaning 110 percent of raw honesty. “We come from an environment that has been created in our industry that’s a ‘yes’ environment,” Paul said. “Due to that environment, it has set back a lot of our youth that are not just basketball players, but young men who happen to be able to play the game of basketball really well. They grow into being young businessmen and now they’re done playing the game at 35. They enter a world where that ‘yes’ environment that was created while they were at the top of their game, doesn’t exist anymore. So now they’re set back in life.
As of now, Northeast Ohio Media Group is told, “there have been no communication” between the Cavs and Thompson’s agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group. That doesn’t mean much. Quite frankly, it’s simply too early.
The Suns offered Bledsoe a four-year, $48 million contract in July, but Bledsoe’s representatives insist that the guard’s value is a full maximum contract. There’s been minimal communication between Bledsoe’s representatives and Suns officials since the franchise’s offer in July. Bledsoe’s representatives with Klutch Sports, Rich Paul and Mark Termini, were unable to find a consequential offer sheet to force the Suns into matching a deal. Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders has been represented by Termini for much of his coaching career.
This summer, Paul told Griffin that James was interested in returning, but said there were no guarantees. “Once LeBron started getting serious about Cleveland, I knew he needed to sit with Dan in person,” said Paul. “He had to talk to him directly.” On July 6, Gilbert flew to South Florida to meet with James. They sat down at the kitchen table, and Gilbert apologized for the letter and “one terrible” night that had eclipsed the previous five rewarding years together. It was clear as well that James was ready to move on, but he was perhaps even more interested in whether the Cavs had the money to immediately build a championship team. Gilbert assured James the Cavs had the resources and were willing to use them.
No one was surprised that Paul was good at recruiting talent, bringing aboard N.B.A. players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tristan Thompson and Eric Bledsoe. In a bruising business long on paranoia and short on friends, Paul had earned a reputation as a smart, straight-shooting negotiator. “He is a really good communicator and knows the basketball side real well — I could see him on our side of the game someday,” said David Griffin, the Cavaliers’ general manager.
It did not get far. Not long after the Cavaliers drafted James out of high school with their top pick in the 2003 N.B.A. draft, he handed a paycheck over to Paul. It was Paul’s first two weeks of a $50,000 annual salary, to do what, exactly, neither of them knew. “He told me that he really didn’t have a job for me, but that he wanted me close and we’d figure it out,” Paul said. Maverick Carter and Randy Mims, two lifelong friends of James’s, were also put on the payroll, and the “Four Horsemen” were born. They had a signature handshake, and they put a silhouette of a knight on their tennis shoes. They promised one another that they would be more than an entourage or posse. They did not know how yet, but James said he knew that he was making a sound investment.
They traveled to Amateur Athletic Union tournaments together and played pickup games — Paul was a member of two state championship teams at Benedictine. But mostly they talked: about their favorite television shows and girlfriends, about the classmates at their respective Catholic schools and the affluence they took for granted, about the friends from the neighborhood that they had lost to jail or worse. They also talked about the grind that Gloria James and Rich Paul Sr. endured as single parents and the wisdom and drive each had handed down to them. “He had all these life skills that he got from his dad, and pretty soon I had all these people ask me, ‘Why do you have this Cleveland guy around?’ ” James said.
Paul and James first crossed paths in the Akron-Canton Airport as they were about to board a flight to Atlanta. James, captivated by Paul’s Warren Moon throwback jersey, asked where he got it. It turned out that Paul was selling jerseys out of the trunk of his car and was going to Atlanta to buy more. He gave James his connection in Atlanta, and he told him to drop his name for a discount, and then went on his way. “It was fate,” Paul said. “I could have missed the plane. I could have taken an earlier flight. I could have not worn the jersey. I could have been having a bad day and not spoken to him.”
Ken Berger: Mark Jackson has signed with LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, league source confirms. @daldridgetnt reported earlier.