Skip to content

LeBron changing agents, leaving CAA to be repped by friend

Sep 13, 2012, 2:35 AM EDT

LeBron James of the 2012 USA Basketball Getty Images

Once again, LeBron James is leaning on his childhood friends and moving away from long-time industry professionals to represent him. That hasn’t always led to the best decisions in the past but it is his pattern over the years.

LeBron is letting go of Leon Rose and the power of CAA (Creative Artists Agency) — and with that moving away from power broker William Wesley — to be represented by a new agency formed childhood friend Rich Paul. Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal broke the story.

It was CAA that helped bring LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade together in Miami (the agency represented all of them).

Paul has become an agent, basically starting Rose’s apprentice at CAA but he has learned a lot during the last four years and is leaving the agency to form his own. There is no bad blood, this is just LeBron going where he is more comfortable, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. And there are not going to be dramatic changes for LeBron, really.

Paul’s first name is one of the initials in LRMR, the marketing firm LeBron formed with Maverick Carter and other friends several years back. (LeBron sold his marketing rights to Fenway Sports Group last year, a deal that in part gave him a piece of English soccer powerhouse Liverpool Football Club.)

LeBron has a lot of people who come at him off the court trying to get a piece of him and his pattern is to lean on the people he has known the longest, people he believes he can trust. Paul is one of them. Paul also is the agent for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tristan Thompson, Eric Bledsoe and Jonny Flynn and some are expected to follow him to the new agency. Paul is a legitimate agent, not some fly by night guy.

This is not the first agent switch for James, who started in the league with Aaron Goodwin but moved to Rose two years into his NBA career.

What does it mean? In the short term not much, but it could be important down the line. Maybe. But probably not.

LeBron and the Heat aren’t breaking up the band for a couple years, if ever. So long as they are winning rings the core will stay together. About the only thing to watch — Paul will not collect any money on LeBron’s current contract, but if he opts out in 2014 Paul would collect on any new deal.

This might not mean much as and hammering out max contracts for LeBron is not the hard part of being an agent. And so long as the big three of the Heat agree to stay together (and maybe take a little less money to do so) contract negotiations with Miami are not going to be overly complex. It’s not like Paul has to go out and hustle up offers for LeBron. There are no financial negotiations.

But now LeBron is under different management than Bosh and Wade, both of whom are still with CAA. Read into that whatever you want.

LeBron is locked in for two more years in Miami, then his deal has a couple years of player options on it. Both Wade and Bosh have similar deals. Like I said, they are not looking to breakup the band, so those options may be meaningless. We’ll see.

It all could mean nothing, but it’s something to watch.

  1. eventhorizon04 - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:14 AM

    In my opinion, LeBron’s agent will have little to do with whether or not LeBron opts out of his deal. It’ll be at the request of the Heat (to provide luxury tax relief) or the performance of the Heat.

    The first (luxury tax relief) is self-explanatory. By the second, I mean, if the Heat somehow lose in the first round of the playoffs, or if Wade’s injury problems continue into this year, then LeBron MIGHT choose to go to a new team in 2014.

    Trust me – if the Heat win another championship with this roster, LeBron’s not going to opt out of his deal just so his new agent to earn money – that guy has earned plenty of money riding on LeBron’s coattails already.

  2. nokoolaidcowboy - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:12 AM

    Repped by his friend? In other words, James is continuing to march to the beat of his own drum. KUDOS to him if he can successfully manage his own career. Too many guys in sports entertainment NEED babysitting. James wants more control of his career and this is way of accomplishing this without going all out and saying that he reps himself.

  3. raidmagic - Sep 13, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    I’ve always thought that this Miami superteam was temporary. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave when the contact allows a player option.

  4. cantonbound13 - Sep 13, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    Why wouldn’t he opt out? He can make more money, even if he stays with the Heat. This is bad news for Eddie Curry, he was signed by the Heat because he shares the same agent.

    • eventhorizon04 - Sep 13, 2012 at 8:22 AM

      ….Um, if his main goal was to make more money, he wouldn’t have gone to the Heat at all – Cleveland and the Knicks would have given him any contract he asked for.

      And if you think the Heat can afford to give him a new raise under the new CBA, I highly suggest you read the new payroll rules and how even high-spending owners like Mark Cuban are now nervous about the luxury tax.

      • bougin89 - Sep 13, 2012 at 9:59 AM

        Cleveland and the Knicks could not have given Lebron any contract he asked for. He could have made about $2.5 million more per season(over the course of the contract) through the Cavs or any team that could have made a sign and trade(the Knicks could have that summer) with the Cavs. Because he stands to lose more money per season in the later years of his contract if he opted out early Lebron wouldn’t actually be making 2.5 million less per season but closer to 1.75-2.25 million per season depending when(and a big IF) he were to opt out early.

  5. cantonbound13 - Sep 13, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    Does this mean another decision show in 2 years?

    • eventhorizon04 - Sep 13, 2012 at 8:26 AM

      Doubtful, but it would be funny to see the fan-bases that insulted him for choosing Miami turn around and try to recruit him:

      “The great fans in New York/Chicago/LA love LeBron and always have!”

  6. miamatt - Sep 13, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    This doesn’t mean anything other than LeBron is sticking with his buddy who he has known for years. I actually expect James, Wade, and Bosh to all opt out and sign new deals with the Heat after the 4th year of their respective contracts. Unless catastrophe strikes Miami, LBJ has no reason to leave; the big 3 will look at the team, likely take a little less than the max so the Heat can keep some of their role players, and take the extra guaranteed money that comes with a new 4+1+1 deal.

  7. SH4DY - Sep 13, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    I respect his decisions to involve his childhood friends and as far as I know the other project with his friends is succesful, so why not. People should stop to interprete too much into this kind of stories…

  8. canehouse - Sep 13, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    I applaud LBJ for making this decision… he will be with Miami as long as Miami wants him to be here.

    • cantonbound13 - Sep 13, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      It would be interesting to see how people like you would react if he left Miami.

  9. florida727 - Sep 13, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Contractually, his agent will do nothing, nor will he benefit or harm LeBron in any way. What will be interesting to see is if his friend can continue the endorsement gravy train. That’s where he might, and I use the term loosely, “earn” his money. I totally agree with the comment “nokoolaidcowboy” made: this is LeBron’s way of controlling everything related to his career and business opportunities, and frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    I wonder if his agent/friend is strictly a salaried representative, or does he actually get a percentage of the deals he cuts. Kind of like how Tiger Woods pays his caddie a straight salary and year-end bonus, instead of the traditional small weekly stipend and a percentage of winnings based on where he finishes in any individual tournament.

    • bougin89 - Sep 13, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      I think you make a ggreat point. Lebron has been extremely successful when it comes to endorsements and like you said that is where he can really “earn” a lot of money long term. I would be very interested to know what kind of cut his agent actually gets, if it’s different than the standard percentage.

      Lebron is a smart business man, and like he has said he wants to be the first billionaire athlete. He knows to do that he will have to build his brand like MJ and his endorsements are going to have to get him there.

  10. Louis Tumblin - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Lebron is always been a homie when it comes to his friends. What I find interesting is Rich Paul’s company will be based out of Cleveland.

  11. badintent - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Warren Buffet and LBJ are friends, Buffet told LBJ that China ‘s market is the next big thing. LBJ is working it but one problem, Kobe is years ahead there. So this hommie manager better like Chinese food big time, the dude better have a major Air Miles program going on. Lets face it, LBJ will never make us think of him as MJ or Kobe in terms of the North American market. Check please.

  12. bbk1000 - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    This might explain Lebron’s $250 sneaker I have read about…..

  13. glink123 - Sep 14, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    LBJ never was the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2359)
  2. K. Irving (1917)
  3. A. Davis (1742)
  4. L. James (1588)
  5. K. Durant (1550)
  1. K. Bryant (1535)
  2. R. Rubio (1365)
  3. T. Thompson (1333)
  4. A. Aminu (1313)
  5. M. Leonard (1275)