Any LeBron James news is a big deal in the NBA, but a report from Sports Business Journal says that LeBron has elected to leave industry powerhouse Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and agent Leon Rose for the opportunity to be represented by his close friend, Cleveland-native Rich Paul. If the name sounds familiar, it's because Paul was the LBJ associate who called Cleveland Cavaliers management to notify them of LeBron's infamous "Decision" as he was going on the air.
The move will be a tandem departure, as Paul is also leaving CAA, and he will presumably take clients Tristan Thompson, Eric Bledsoe and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with him -- Yahoo!'s Marc Spears reports the agency will be named Klutch Sports Management. There is a lot to digest, so let's get to it.
The initial assumption is that LeBron's move is a big blow to CAA, and it is, but there are multiple layers to the impact. SB Nation's Tom Ziller says the shift just creates more space for William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley to work in the shadows of negotiations:
On the surface, this is a massive blow to CAA. Certainly, it's a blow to Rose -- LeBron's next contract should be signed in 2014, and I imagine 5 percent of that deal will be a pretty penny...The central figure in the recent rise of CAA is, of course, William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, the mysterious power broker who seems to permeate all basketball pores these days.
When Rich Paul strikes out on his own -- Yahoo!'s Marc Spears reports the agency will be named Klutch Sports Management, which is wholly unfortunate -- he could quickly have three players closely tied to Worldwide Wes on his roster in LeBron, MKG and Bledsoe. MKG is four years from a new basketball contract, and it's unclear whether he'll do his marketing deals through LeBron's LRMR (which manages James' endorsements and has tried to build a client base). Something tells me that even though Rich Paul is no longer in the employ of CAA, Mr. Wesley will still have his ear. And the same goes for, at the very least, MKG, if not the other players as well.
Will this latest development cause any further shifts in the NBA's power structure? It's difficult to say, and any impact will certainly be indirect, but it's hard to deny that business in the NBA lacks transparency at the moment.