Longtime NBA agent Calvin Andrews, who worked at BDA before founding SAI Sports Management, has teamed up with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports.
As part of the move, Andrews told HoopsHype that he will bring Aaron Gordon and Josh Okogie with him over to Klutch Sports. Meanwhile, he added that all of the non-NBA players that he represents will stay under the SAI Sports Management umbrella, where he and other people at his company will continue to manage.
We caught up with Andrews to discuss his new venture, where he will be working alongside some of the top stars in the league.
Please note this interview was very minorly edited for brevity and clarity.
I’d love to hear a little bit more about how all of this came together.
Calvin Andrews: A lot of people don’t know that I have a longstanding history with Rich Paul actually through LeBron James. I’m the original founder of the AAU program Oakland Soldiers, which is one of the first AAU programs in the country. That is a whole different story that we don’t have time for today. But back in the day, LeBron actually came out to California and played with the Soldiers. I believe he was in ninth grade. After, we developed a relationship with the family and all of the surrounding people. Along that path, he met Rich Paul. I met Rich when he was maybe 18 years old. He watched my ascent into the business and later I watched them do their thing. We always communicated. We had a great relationship.
What kind of conversations did you and Rich Paul have before merging your business?
CA: I don’t know how deep and political we need to get but in our industry, the overwhelming majority of the kids playing the game are African-American. The number of kids that are represented by African-American agents is disproportionate. A lot of it has to do with resources and how we’re presented and how we’re perceived. You have some of the bigger companies, I don’t need to name them, that dominate the space. You have very successful African-American agents like Rich and Bill Duffy. They’re doing good business but it doesn’t compare to the larger groups that are out there. Rich and I would always talk about philosophies and the plight of the black agent. What could we do to support each other? We had a vision. Why do black agents not support each other and do things to work together and partner? So the conversations with Rich went like this: Imagine if all the successful black agents locked arms together and walked down the street and said, hey, we are unified. Your resources are mine. My resources are yours. Your clients are mine. My clients are yours. How powerful would that be? There wouldn’t be a question of whether or not you had the same resources as some of these other groups? Do you have the same client list? Now, you’re on an even playing field. I think you would see more African-American young men being represented by African-American agents. So we wanted to create it. Let’s come up with these collaborations. Let’s work together. That was the initial philosophy behind this. That’s the genesis and we’re looking to do some very incredible things together.
Considering how long you two have known each other, how did it all come together now?
CA: Over the last two years, we were talking and talking and talking. When he got the partnership with UTA, it gave him the bandwidth and the platform and the resources to build out some of the things we had been talking about. He reached out to me and said it was time. One of the reasons Rich wanted to bring me on is he felt he needed an OG. He needed a guy who has been around. Those guys are relatively young and I think I am at least 12 years their senior. He wanted a well-experienced guy who was established in the industry and was well-respected. This had been in the works for over a year now and we just started putting it all together. Obviously, then, COVID-19 slowed things down. We took a slower approach. Honestly, this has been done. Today was just the public announcement.
From Oakland Soldiers AAU to the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James and Kendrick Perkins reunited. pic.twitter.com/Ackj9UYjO4
— Eddie Maisonet, III (@edthesportsfan) February 24, 2015
Are there any other notable factors that led to the decision to merge with Klutch?
CA: We agreed to merge our businesses under his umbrella. Obviously, he has a pretty big umbrella. The platform is so much bigger. The resources that we will have and the doors that can open for a client are immense. Any voice, anything they want to say, is going to be amplified. I think that is one of the key things. My goal is always to provide the best resources possible for the client. Period. I think with the Klutch platform, that immediately happens.
Klutch has received a massive investment from United Talent Agency. They have added a football division. They have now added prominent agents in you and Omar Wilkes to the basketball operations team. Where do you see Klutch going and what will your role be in that process?
CA: I think a lot of people are pretty blown away by what Klutch has developed so far. But I don’t think you guys have seen anything yet. The things that we will collectively work on and produce are going to be amazing. There’s never been an African-American owned firm that has been able to do multiple sports at the level in which Klutch has been able to do it. Where it is going from a sports and business standpoint is going to be amazing. I think my role will be to work with Rich and Omar to help continue to grow and develop basketball. My role will be to help bring balance to the group. But whatever role that is and whatever capacity is needed, I’m there. I can’t sit here and pinpoint, hey, this is going to happen and this is going to happen. But I would say to stay tuned because it is nowhere near where it can be and will be.