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What the lockout hath wrought: more agents poaching clients

Sep 24, 2011, 3:59 PM EDT

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Agents can get a little bored during the lockout. Normally they’d spend July and August getting their clients new deals, helping them with marketing and exposure, trying to sweep indiscretions under the table. It’s keeps a man busy.

This summer there have been no negotiations. Well, there are the negotiations between the NBA players union and the owners, but the agents don’t have a seat at that table. So they plan coups and try to influence their clients.

Or, they try to poach new clients.

This summer has seen a lot of it, Alex Kennedy reports at Hoopsworld.

Jamal Crawford, Kenyon Martin, Rodney Stuckey, Austin Daye, Deron Williams, Wilson Chandler, Ramon Sessions, C.J. Watson, Josh McRoberts, Jeremy Evans, Andray Blatche, Kris Humphries, Rudy Fernandez, Jordan Hamilton, Hamed Haddadi and Samardo Samuels are among the players to leave their agents in recent months.

While it’s not uncommon for players to change agents, the number of terminations is up from recent offseasons. Some agents blame “poaching,” which is the industry’s term for stealing clients. Poaching usually involves an agent paying for a player, which is against the National Basketball Players Association’s regulations.

Remember that the NBPA (the players union) certifies agents, so they theoretically could punish agents for paying players. Except that they never really have, and right now the union has bigger issues to focus on anyway. So agents are being more aggressive, pushing the boundaries. Pretty much like you’d expect agents to do.

“There are a lot of players who aren’t doing well financially,” one agent said. “Agents know who hasn’t handled their money well. They’re swarming around these guys that are in financial trouble and offering money that will last the duration of the lockout. They provide money to the player and are paid back going forward. Some agents don’t even ask to be paid back; they’ll just do the player’s next deal. The players that aren’t doing well financially aren’t thinking about loyalty – they’re thinking ‘I’m broke and I need the money.’

This brings up another reason the lockout could drag on — some players may be broke now but that number will go up if players start missing paychecks (the first ones would be Nov. 15). There are some owners who think this is their best leverage (they’re right) and want to be sure to use it.

If that happens, if this drags out like that, you may see more poaching. Just a little something to watch as this lockout drags out.

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