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Agents say there is no "free agent summit" but LeBron says otherwise

Jun 2, 2010, 8:37 AM EDT

nba_james1_250.jpgWhen you’re an agent, you don’t just negotiate the fat contract for your client then watch the money roll in. Well, not if you’re a good one. Your job is bigger than that.

You have to have your player’s back, keeping him out of trouble.

So, hypothetically, if you’re client starts talking about all the free agents getting together to talk and choreograph their free agent moves — to border on tampering — then you get your political spin machine going and shoot that down.

Which is exactly what the agents for Dwyane Wade and Amar’e Stoutdemire said to Darren Rovell yesterday at CNBC.

“Dwyane never made reference to a summit,” [Wade's agent Henry] Thomas told me. “He said that he’d have conversations with some of these guys and that still will happen. These guys came into the league at the same time and they’re in similar situations, so it’s unrealistic to think that they won’t talk. But there’s no summit of any kind planned where they’ll all be in the same location.”

Except, in the leaked transcript of LeBron James’ Larry King interview (as seen here at Blogabull, but reported in several spots), the biggest fish himself basically says there is one.

KING: What if [you tell free other free agents] you go there and I go here and we go here? Is that possible?

JAMES: I don’t know to that extent, but it will be fun. It will be fun to get all the free agents together and, you know, figure out a way how we can make the league better.

Now let’s delve into the semantics of spin.

Wade never used the word “summit.” In fact, there is very little chance — with the busy summer schedules top NBA players have — that all of them are going to be able to coordinate and sit down together in the back of some expensive New York restaurant and just talk it out. There likely will not be one big meeting.  (For the record, we at PBT had never used the word “summit” until this story, although we did compare it to the Apalachin Meeting, which was a summit.)

But not having everyone sit down in one place for a meeting and not having everyone share information as would happen at a summit are two different things. In our modern world of communications, meetings like this are often not face-to-face.

Wade, James and Bosh all share CAA as an agent firm. If you don’t think they are all sharing information, you are a fool. They admit as much, saying they are doing it just to get the best deal for their clients. But when those clients leak that “LeBron is going to X, Bosh is going to Y” info to others it will change the landscape. Others will try to get in with them. If LeBron really wants to play with a particular player, they will talk. If Wade really wants Stoudemire in Miami, they will talk. And so on, and so on, and so on. Everyone will share the information.

So Wade’s agent Thomas is right, there is not going to be a “summit.” But efforts bordering on tampering by any other name smells as sweet.

  1. Lee - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    LaBron is just our for himself. This is his way of getting what he wants before any of the others signs. He has in mind the team he wants. Just who does he think he is, the leader of everyone else’s career. Just play team ball and stop tripping with delusions of grandeur

  2. Robert - Jun 2, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    Wade was the first one to mention this meeting of the top free agents. Which I think is a good thing. Can we expect to have other teams climb to elite status if two or possibly three of these guys get together. I tired of seeing the same teams every year. How many championships does Boston have, or LA.

  3. Scott - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    If 6 or 7 extremely talented business people from the same industry got together and decided that they all were going to work for the same company would there be an issue? I think not.
    I think that all NBA players are out for themselves. Who else should they be out for? If they have professional goals to win championships, then they need to be surrounded by people of equal or at least complimentary talent.
    Don’t be mad at the players. The owners and the league have the opportunity to make much more money than the players combined. The players own themselves and their talent. The latter is fleeting given the risk of injury where as the owners have willable assets that will remain independent of their ability to perform and can stretch generations into the future.

  4. sue - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    All greedy men!!!!!!!!! No respect for any of them. Talented..yes,otherthan that….nothing special.

  5. Brimm - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    D. Wade is the best in that class to me. Lebron gets all this press, coined “The King” But he has never won a ring. D. Wade has, and his numbers are just as good, and some years better. Any of those players would be lucky to get on a team with him. Don’t sleep on Lebron, he is still really great. I would love to see some other NBA Teams, it’s the same ones. LA, Boston, Spurs, and Detroit Pistons, over the pass 15 years at least. But LA and Boston, is just too much. We have seen this story before. I wish some owner picked up two of those 4 players or all of them for that matter outside of LA, and Boston and then we could watch them win rings for the next 5 plus years.

  6. Energy - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    If these men were ordinary talented business men they would simply start their own company. Imagine a team comprised and owned by this years top free agents. The greediest ones in this equation are the fans who would deny these players who have elevated their franchises the opportunity to win a championship or live the lives that they choose.

  7. CK Dexter Haven - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    @ Sue
    This isn’t about greed. More likely, it’s a bunch of kids who want to play together, and now have a say in where they’ll do it. Just like any other person in the country, they value the ability to choose a place to live and work. And, because there are salary caps in the NBA, if two or more of them want to play together, they’ll have to do so for LESS money than they could get individually. They have enough money. If two or more go to one team, they’ll like where they’re living, they’ll enjoy playing with each other for 82+ games per year for five years, and they’ll enjoy winning. The latter is probably the most important part of this. and, every kid gets into sports to win.
    With that said, Lebron’s showing himself to be quite the idiot. Either that, or he just doesn’t care (about tampering rules). Too big for his britches, him. I tend to like players when they’re rising, but when they start to liken their excrement to flowers, i have no place for them. Happened with Jordan, Kobe, and now Lebron….

  8. Scott - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    I’m not sure what you mean by greedy within the context of the business relationship that the players have with the owners of the teams but don’t forget that the players are not working for non-profit organizations. Moreover, ibid to my earlier post referencing the finite, ephemeral earning window of any pro athlete.
    Scott

  9. Bob - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Say what you want, LeBron loves the glitz and glamour and attention. And that does not exist in Cleveland, so he’ll be moving. Where? To the bright lights and all the stars–Madison Square Garden. As far as talent, Kobe is still the best! And until LeBron can will his team to win a chapionship, he has to take a backseat to the real super star in the league. I’m not an LA fan by the way.
    B

  10. Booner - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    Excellent comment and I agree with you 100%!

  11. Scott - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    I don’t think Mr. James is an idiot. He is challenging a system that has consistently favored owners and the league. It may be a small test to see how far he can go, but he has public esteem and is well liked in the NBA. It looks like he isn’t ready to put on the golden handcuffs that the NBA and ownership hand out to pro basketball players.
    Scott

  12. Glitz - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    The glitz and glamor is wherever LeBron plays. Look at all the attention he received while playing in Cleveland. It wasn’t only the local news creating the buzz.
    On the flip side, do you think he wants to deal with the backlash he would get in a city like NY? He could have defecated on the mayors desk in Cleveland and it would have been celebrated. He caught a lot of flack in Cleveland after it appeared he quit in game five but not nearly the flack he would get in a major market.
    LeBron will survive outside of Cleveland but basketball in Cleveland will not survive without LeBron. We just can’t afford to sit through another losing season.
    After selling out 455 straight games at Jacobs Field what are the Indians drawing on average today. Even the Browns, who can still fill a stadium with a losing team, are having there issues in this economy.
    One thing I am proud of, after being a three sport fan for the last 30 years, I just don’t care anymore. If the owners make a lot of money the players want their cut which then increases the price of parking, tickets and concessions. If players and owners actually voice concern about the expense the fans have to incur to enjoy a live game, I might come back and support pro sports. Until then, there are a lot of high school and college games to enjoy.
    No athlete is greater than a doctor, nurse, police officer, firefighter or teacher. Period.

  13. Kirk - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    One important question I don’t see addressed: what happens in a league where the players decide where they will play and where they won’t. Do you really want the NBA to turn into a junior high school popularity contest ?

  14. Scott - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Platitudes aside, if your point is that we should value those occupations more than that of an athlete, I think that we do. No one breaks an arm and goes to their local pro sports arena for treatment.
    I can’t agree that by virtue of someone’s profession, they are, by default inherently better than any other person. Were that true doctors wouldn’t molests children in the exam room, nurses wouldn’t hit an elderly patient for wetting the bed, firefighters wouldn’t start fires, police officers wouldn’t insert night sticks into a suspects’ rectums and teachers wouldn’t be getting pregnant by or impregnating their students.
    Again, I’m surprised by the animus that people have towards athletes. They are essentially the worker in this equation and although they are paid far more than the average person, the people who pay them are earning a staggering amount of money.
    More power to anyone who can get their fair share.
    Scott

  15. Scott - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    Platitudes aside, if your point is that we should value those occupations more than that of an athlete, I think that we do. No one breaks an arm and goes to their local pro sports arena for treatment.
    I can’t agree that by virtue of someone’s profession, they are, by default inherently better than any other person. Were that true doctors wouldn’t molests children in the exam room, nurses wouldn’t hit an elderly patient for wetting the bed, firefighters wouldn’t start fires, police officers wouldn’t insert night sticks into suspects’ rectums and teachers wouldn’t be getting pregnant by or impregnating their students.
    Again, I’m surprised by the animus that people have towards athletes. They are essentially the worker in this equation and although they are paid far more than the average person, the people who pay them are earning a staggering amount of money.
    More power to anyone who can get their fair share.
    Scott

  16. gb - Jun 3, 2010 at 8:13 AM

    Lebron I think you should stay in Cleavland. Thats my chose, nut you go where ever your heart tells you too. Maybe your heart will tell you to go else where or maybe stay where you are at. Which ever you decide God Bless you King

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