Attorneys for New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson filed additional amendments to a lawsuit that is attempting to enforce the termination of a signed agreement with a Florida marketing company. The amendments, filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina by Williamson’s New York-based lawyer, Jeffrey Klein, on Wednesday, include further details of alleged violations of North Carolina state sports-agent laws by the Florida company, Prime Sports Marketing, and its president, Gina Ford. Prime Sports filed a suit in Florida court in June, shortly after Williamson’s filing, that seeks $100 million in damages from Williamson and his current representation, Creative Arts Agency, for “breach of contract.”
The amended complaint on Williamson’s behalf toward Prime Sports include an allegation that Ford and Prime Sports began recruiting Williamson as early as January 2019, when he was still engaged with his freshman basketball season at Duke. Prime Sports and Ford were not certified by the National Basketball Players Association or registered in the state of North Carolina, which is at the crux of Williamson’s case to enforce termination of his agreement with Prime Sports.
Many states, including North Carolina and Florida, require by law that agents are registered to recruit or sign prospective professional athletes. After breaking with Prime Sports, Williamson signed with CAA for his contractual and marketing representation.
Royce Young: Thunder two-way player Lu Dort has signed with agents Thad Foucher and Joe Smith of Wasserman Media Group, according to league sources. Foucher is the long-time agent agent of Russell Westbrook and Foucher and Smith also represent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
When De’Aaron Fox declared for the NBA draft after a stellar single season at Kentucky, he signed with Happy Walters, a dual-sport agent who had handled the early careers of stars like Amar’e Stoudemire, Jimmy Butler and the NFL’s Larry Fitzgerald. Walters was one of Gaston’s connections. Gaston had become involved with Catalyst, Walters’s firm, through his work with Catalyst client Eric Moreland, a Houston Preps alum and former Oregon State center who worked his way into the NBA. In 2013, Gaston had even moved up to Corvallis, Oregon, to be near the university’s campus while helping Moreland develop into a pro prospect. After Moreland declared for the draft, Catalyst officially hired Gaston.
At first, Gaston felt nervous about approaching Fox—by that point a longtime friend—with agency business. But to the Fox family, it was a nonissue. “Why wouldn’t we do this?” asked Fox’s father, Aaron. The trust between Gaston and the Foxes ran deep. Because Gaston wasn’t registered as an agent, though, Walters became the lead agent. After a year with Walters, it became clear to Fox and Gaston that they could manage De’Aaron’s career without outside help. After all, Gaston had formal agency experience, and he had already started studying for his agent certification, with the goal of getting registered and representing Fox himself.