Wasserman: Thrilled to welcome @James Harden to Wasserman. Can’t wait to see you hit the court in Brooklyn #TeamWass
Ramona Shelburne: James Harden hired Jason Ranne and Chafie Fields from Wasserman to secure a trade for him. They worked closely with the Rockets and all teams involved to secure the deal. Wasserman also represented Russell Westbrook and worked closely with the Rockets on his trade to Wizards.
HoopsHype spoke with five agents and two executives to learn how a smokescreen, a ruse designed to disguise their real intentions, is leaked during the busiest transactional points of the year. “Every single executive does, and anyone who tells you they don’t is lying,” one former executive told HoopsHype. “You’re trying to steer people in another direction. All the narratives are total bullsh*t now.”
Whether it’s a rival executive looking to stir the pot or an agent helping to shape the trade or free-agent market for his client, usually information is leaked with a purpose in mind. “Sometimes, it gives you a competitive advantage to get you to where you need to be,” one agent with a decade of experience told HoopsHype. “The whole thing about this business, whether it’s on the basketball, media, or marketing side, is being in control and creating your own narrative. If you’re in a position to be able to do that, whether you’re twisting the truth or not, you could probably do it even after the fact if it doesn’t necessarily go in your favor or accomplish what you want at that specific time.”
Once the player is in free agency, an agent will try to squeeze teams for the most money they can get by leaking specific organizations who have expressed any level of interest in their client. “Last year, I put out a team that had interest in my player during his free agency,” one agent bluntly told HoopsHype. “We knew the whole time we weren’t going there, but they had money and wanted him. We met with them a few times, so we knew it would make it believable to other teams. We used them as leverage.”
When asked how he knew the team was putting out a smokescreen regarding his client, the agent replied, “A reporter told me they reached out, and some of the stuff he had, there’s no way he would have that. I know they do it because the GM called me, and he told me to call a specific reporter and have him put out something about my player coming back to his team.” That similar sentiment was conveyed by one of the executives during the trade season as well. “On trades, there will be times where we’d have certain articles written about guys to make them look better than they are to generate interest without saying the guy is available,” one executive admitted to HoopsHype.